We just returned from the 12th Annual Midwest International Economic Development Conference (MIEDC) in Madison, Wisconsin organized by the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Department of Applied Economics at University of Minnesota. The two-day conference featured sessions on a variety of topics, including agriculture, markets, and insurance, as well as several crosscutting themes like gender, corruption, and measurement, and attracted a number of great researchers from around the world.
While summarizing all the great research presented at the conference would be difficult, in the spirit of David Evans’s blog post featuring a round-up of impact evaluation studies from the Center for the Study of African Economies 2015 Conference this March, we wanted to highlight some of the new research presented at MIEDC. We focus on the working papers from young researchers and graduate students.
- Can the Asian Financial Crisis provide evidence of the “thrifty phenotype” hypothesis? Exploiting the financial crisis as a natural experiment, this paper explores whether fetal nutritional deprivation and its potential effect on future growth trajectories lead to prevalence of metabolic disorders (in particular, obesity) when life after birth is “unexpectedly” rich in calories [Hillary Caruthers from Lawrence University].
- Do livestock transfers reduce poverty and improve food security? Analyzing project data from Zambia, the authors find that food security effects of livestock transfers depend on the production of animal source foods [Kashi Kafle and Alex Winter-Nelson from University of Illinois].
- Schooling in rural Thailand reduces the noise around expectations of income, potentially due to literacy, which provides for an improved ability to consider available information. This finding may challenge the way that we consider the importance of education in applying the rational expectations hypothesis [Ajay Shenoy from UC Santa Cruz].
- Indirect questioning and social desirability bias: the author explores whether using a “list experiment” style of indirect questioning decreases social desirability bias. While she hypothesizes that the list experiment would increase truthful responses, this is not the case, possibly due to the cognitive difficulty in responding to the more complicated indirect questioning technique [Yanfang Su from Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health].
- Unobserved heterogeneity curbs social network effects in technology adoption: village-level variability in soil quality makes Kenyan farmers less likely to respond to their peers’ experiences with new hybrid seeds [Emilia Tjernström from UC Davis].
- There is historical persistence in savings: farmers living in present-day Romania in Habsburg regions (across the Habsburg-Ottoman imperial border) save more than their Ottoman counterparts. And this difference is mostly due to differential access to formal financial institutions [Sarah Walker from University of Wisconsin-Madison].