Handbook Chapter on Agri-Food Value Chains in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Last month my esteemed co-authors, Marc Bellemare and Sunghun Lim, and I published a chapter on agri-food value chains within low- and middle-income countries in volume six of the Handbook of Agricultural Economics. It was both a huge honor and a huge undertaking to write this chapter about such a rich and important literature. A handbook chapter like this one represents the work of many beyond the authors and includes the volume editors, reviewers, and participants of a workshop where we presented an early draft of our chapter. My co-authors and I are so grateful for the constructive feedback we received throughout the process of writing this chapter.

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The OARES at 70: Reflections on Contributions to DEIB

The Online Agricultural and Resource Economics Seminar (OARES), which I co-organize with Marc Bellemare, has now facilitated 70 presentations. Starting in May 2020, as COVID-19 lockdowns set in and in-person components of academic life stalled, the OARES has persisted for four semesters and one summer. Marc and I thought that it was time to pause and reflect on the OARES, to date. This reflection is both for our own benefit as we imagine what the future of the OARES might look like, but also to report some descriptive statistics based on the first 70 presentations in the OARES.

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Have an ordinal dependent variable? Use this robustness test.

Ordinal variables are everywhere. Data providing information about happiness, levels of customer satisfaction, employees’ satisfaction, mental stress, psychological well-being, societal trust, and other important variables are now regularly collected and analyzed by national governments, large multinational companies, and researchers. However, because these data are not directly observable or quantitatively measurable, they are thus not measured on objective cardinal units. This presents a key challenge when performing standard quantitative analysis.

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“The Coronavirus Pandemic and Food Security: Evidence from Mali”—Forthcoming

My paper, co-authored with Guigonan Serge Adjognon and Aly Sanoh, on changes in experienced food security associated with the coronavirus pandemic is now forthcoming at Food Policy. In the paper, we combine pre-pandemic survey data with follow-up phone survey data from Mali, and find some interesting—and perhaps surprising—patterns in experienced food security within Mali. Here is the abstract:

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Higher Aspirations, Less Investment? Some New Experimental Evidence

New research by David McKenzie, Aakash Mohpal, and Dean Yang finds that exogenously increased financial aspirations lead to less borrowing and business investments two years later.

This finding is consistent with existing evidence, using observational data, of an inverted U-shaped relationship between the aspirations gap and ‘future oriented’ behavior such as investments (by me), education spending (by Phillip Ross), on saving (by Janzen et al.), and existing theoretical work (by Genicot and Ray). It is an important finding because while aspirations may be an important factor that can lead to increased ‘future oriented’ behavior, increasing aspirations by themselves may not necessarily be beneficial if setting aspirations ‘too high’ can lead to frustration and possibly a behavioral poverty trap.

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“Aspirations and Investments in Rural Myanmar”—Forthcoming

In 2014, while I was completing my M.S. degree at MSU, I worked as a research assistant on a data collection project in Mon State Myanmar. As part of this work, I designed a module to be included in a larger household survey that aimed to measure the hopes and aspirations of respondents. That initial work, which was largely a data validation effort, was published in the Journal of Development Studies in 2018.

I am now very happy to report that my paper investigating the relationship between aspirations and investment choices, using these data, is now forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Inequality. Here is the abstract:

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“How Much Does the Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables Matter?”—Forthcoming

I am very excited to share that my paper, “How Much Does the Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables Matter? An Empirical Investigation” is now (finally) forthcoming in the journal Political Analysis. I wrote the first draft of this paper in my 2nd-year paper class at the University of Minnesota. So, publishing this paper in the official methods journal of the American Political Science Association is particularly rewarding.

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Testing and Correcting for Endogeneity with Discontinuities and No Exclusion Restriction

Applied microeconomists, like us, spend a lot of our time thinking (…erm… worrying) about the bias from endogeneity embedded in our empirical estimates. That is why the work of Carolina Caetano (and co-authors), in methodological papers published in Econometrica and the Journal of Econometrics seems so exciting to us.

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“The Other Way COVID Will Kill: Hunger”

That is the title of a recent New York Times article, by Peter S. GoodmanAbdi Latif Dahir, and  on how complications driven by the spread of the coronavirus has led to increased challenges for many people in accessing nutritious and healthy food. The article is a tour de force—reporting from Afghanistan, South Africa, India, South Sudan, and Kenya—and begins with the following vignette.

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