2016-2017 Seminar Series

April 21 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallMarc Conte, Fordham University

"District Subdivision and the Location of Smallholder Forest Conversion in Sumatra"

A unique GIS data set from Indonesia that distinguishes smallholder and plantation operations is used to test the impact of district subdivision, which enhances local control of natural-resource revenues, on the location of smallholder forest conversion. Nonparametric analyses find that in subdivided districts, smallholders convert forests on steeper land that is further from the nearest road and deeper into the forest. Smallholders are also less responsive to forest protection in subdivided districts. District subdivision imposes a welfare loss of $1,734 to $5,256 per hectare (in 2010 USD) from the increased carbon emissions associated with smallholder conversion deeper in the forest.

2016-2017 Past Seminars

September 16, 3:00-4:30, East Campus Union Richard Shumway, Washington State University

“Are Innovations Really Induced by Input Price Changes?"

Technological innovations in agriculture and elsewhere, of course, follow from advances in general scientific knowledge. But the development of technologies can also be driven by input prices - escalating prices for one particular input encourage development of new technology that substitutes for that input. This "induced innovation" hypothesis has been widely examined by economists, but despite its intuitive appeal, it has received limited empirical support. Professor Shumway will present some new research findings relevant to this puzzle.


September 30, 3:00-4:30, Filley Hall 210 Murray Fulton, University of Saskatchewan

“The Governance of Federations"

Organization theorists and management scholars have thus far overlooked the prevalence and success of enterprise federations, a group of organizations that form a central to provide themselves with purchasing, wholesaling, manufacturing, logistics, technical and/or other services. Many enterprise federations are structured as cooperatives – examples include Home Hardware and Federated Co-operatives Limited. What is intriguing about a federation vis-à-vis other forms of governance is not that it co-ordinates activities between organizations, nor that it features a central enterprise, but rather that power is shared between the central enterprise and the autonomous constituent organizations that own the central and are the primary users of its services. According to insights derived from transaction cost analysis and agency theory, the additional costs associated with collaborative governance should render federations more inefficient than conventional governance models, leading them either to centralize completely or fail. The questions posed in this paper is: Why do federations continue to exist, and in some cases even thrive, in competitive industries where presumably more efficient forms of governance are possible? In other words, what, if anything, does federated governance add to compensate for the additional costs of greater collaboration in decision-making?

October 7, 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallJames Oehmke, U.S. Agency for International Development

“Rural Economic Transformation in the Senegal River Valley"

Over the past 50 years attempts modeled on the Green Revolution to catalyze transformation in remaining low-income countries, which rely importantly on subsistence agriculture, have met limited success—and global political, economic and social forces have rapidly changed the development context.  This begs the question: what does successful structural transformation of an agricultural economy look like today? An empirical case study of what is arguably the beginning of a contemporary rural economic transformation process in the Senegal River Delta provides a potential answer. The study adds to the traditional measures of transformation—agricultural technology adoption and staple-crop productivity increases—to include measures of institutional change, business development and rural non-farm employment, among others.

Three conclusions emerge.  First, evidence suggests a shift from subsistence to commercial farming, which is consistent with neo-classical structural transformation.  Second, there appears to be increasing business activity, employment and population growth in rural towns and small cities that is consistent with a local structural transformation, but at least preliminarily differs in nature from classical structural transformations that historically are associated with widespread migration out of rural areas including small towns and into large urban metropolises. Third, the nature of the transformation cannot be captured adequately with only agricultural technology and productivity indicators.

October 21, 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallLisa Pfeiffer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“A Safer Catch? The Effect of Catch Share Management on Risk Taking and Safety in Commercial Fishing"

Commercial fishing is a dangerous occupation despite decades of regulatory initiatives aimed at making it safer. We posit that rights-based fisheries management (the individual allocation of fishing quota to vessels or fishing entities, also called catch shares) can improve safety by solving many of the problems associated with the competitive race to fish experienced in fisheries around the world. The competitive nature of such fisheries results in risky behavior such as fishing in poor weather, overloading vessels with fishing gear, and neglecting maintenance. Although not necessarily intended to address safety issues, catch shares eliminate many of the economic incentives to fish as rapidly as possible. We develop a dataset and methods to empirically evaluate the effects of the adoption of catch shares management on a particularly risky type of behavior: the propensity to fish in stormy weather. After catch shares was implemented in an economically important US West Coast fishery, a fisherman’s probability of taking a fishing trip in high wind conditions decreased by 82% compared with only 31% in the former race to fish fishery. Overall, catch shares caused the average annual rate of fishing on high wind days to decrease by 79%. These results are evidence that institutional changes can significantly reduce individual, voluntary risk exposure and result safer fisheries.

November 18, 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallTravis Lybbert, University of California, Davis

“Leveraging the Lotto for Financial Inclusion: Lotto-Linked Savings Accounts in Haiti”

Many Haitians are more familiar with lottery wagers than any other financial transaction and few have access to savings products. In Port-au-Prince, we asked 306 participants to make a series of decisions to allocate a fixed budget across consumption, a real-world lotto product, a real-time traditional savings product, and a lotto-linked savings product (LLS) that blended the two by providing lotto credit in lieu of interest payments. We find that the introductions of LLS increased total savings by 22 percent, an increase roughly equivalent to that induced by raising the interest rate on the traditional savings product from 5 to 20 percent. An LLS with a small lotto incentive was equally effective as an LLS with a larger lotto incentive in increasing total savings, excluding expected lotto winnings. An LLS product with a lower expected return than the traditional savings product was equally effective as an LLS that had the same expected return as the savings product. The introduction of LLS reduced allocation in all of the three other options: consumption, lotto, and traditional savings. Bu the reductions were largest for lotto spending and the amount saved in the traditional savings product. We find evidence that the LLS was effective at increasing savings at least partly because individuals overweight small probabilities.

December 1, 12:30-1:30, 210 Filley HallBrenna Ellison, University of Illinois

“Examining Consumer Food Waste: Evidence from Two Experimental Studies”

Although food waste is increasingly recognized as an environmental and food security problem, there remains uncertainty over its primary contributors. Some food waste analyses seem to treat consumer (household) food waste as a “mistake” or careless decision; however, consumer decisions to waste likely reflect tradeoffs and economic incentives. These issues were explored in two experimental studies. In the first, we employ large surveys of U.S. food consumers using both within- and between-subject designs to study consumers’ decisions to discard food in different scenarios that vary safety, price, and opportunity costs. We find that food waste is a function of consumers’ demographic characteristics, and that decisions to discard food vary with economic incentives (paper attached). In the second, preliminary results are presented on the impact of an educational campaign to reduce food waste in university dining facilities.

February 17 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallDavid Lambert, Kansas State University

“Education and Factor Bias in Agriculture and Related Industries"

The number of hours devoted to value-added output in the NAICS sector Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting is increasingly supplied by individuals with advanced schooling. Consistent with hypotheses of a positive relationship among technology development, adoption, and dissemination and a skilled workforce, we find that the composition of the workforce is closely aligned with measures of the state of technology and with labor saving biases resulting from technical change. The changing composition of the workforce and technical change have driven an average wedge of 31% between reported wages W and wages augmented by the state of technology W*.  Reported labor compensation in the sector was about $89 billion in 2010, with an average wage index of 110.9.  The augmented labor wage index in 2010 was about 68.7, a loss of about 38%, whereas capital price increased from 121.9 (PC) to 196.7 (PC*).


March 10 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallBettina Klaus, University of Laussane (Switzerland)

“Object Allocation via Immediate-Acceptance: Characterizations and an Affirmative Action Application"

Which mechanism to use to allocate school seats to students still remains a question of hot debate. Meanwhile, immediate acceptance mechanisms remain popular in many school districts. We formalize desirable properties of mechanisms when respecting the relative rank of a school among the students' preferences is crucial. We show that those properties, together with well-known desirable resource allocation properties, characterize immediate acceptance mechanisms. Moreover, we show that replacing one of the properties, consistency, with a weaker property, non-bossiness, leads to a characterization of a much larger class of mechanisms, which we call choice-based immediate acceptance mechanisms. It turns out that certain objectives that are not achievable with immediate acceptance mechanisms, such as affirmative action, can be achieved with a choice-based immediate acceptance mechanism.


March 31 3:00-4:30, 210 Filley HallDavid Bullock, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Generating and Using Focused Big Data for N Fertilizer Management"

Recent research has used precision agricultural technology (PAT) to run large-scale field trials that greatly reduce the cost of data generation. We explore the economic value of such trials. We report results of Monte Carlo simulations in which information generated in trials is used to improve farm management in subsequent years. A key result is that in our simulations the value of PAT is not based on its making variable rate management feasible. Rather, most of the value of PAT comes from the improved management made possible by the information derived from the field trials the technology permits.<

April 7 3:00-4:30, East Campus UnionUma Lele, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Fellow, Daugherty Water for Food Institute International Advisory Panel, formerly World Bank Senior Advisor

Filley-Garey Lecture

“Incentives and Rewards to Innovation in a Rapidly Changing Global Environment"

The 4th industrial revolution, already upon us, promises jobless growth with technology replacing humans and knowledge and skills trumping physical capital. Creating gainful employment for millions is at the center of the cataclysmic political changes and policy concerns throughout the world. Dr. Uma Lele will outline how, and how well, developing regions are undergoing changes in incentives for rapid broad based and sustainable growth, in the context of the highly different resource endowments and the departure from the traditional concept of structural transformation. Questions related are, for example, is large scale farming inevitable? Is it part of a power law? What does it mean for those excluded from the process of structural transformation? How can productive employment be expanded to absorb workers displaced from robotized technological change? Lele will assert that social science research is sorely needed but lacking.

Past Seminars