Northwestern University

Wed 12:00 PM

Diffusion of Agricultural Technologies within Social Networks: Evidence from Composting in Mali

When: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Program of African Studies, Conference Room, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public

Contact: Kate Dargis   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings

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PAS Affiliates Series
*lunch served*

Diffusion of Agricultural Technologies within Social Networks: Evidence from Composting in Mali

Lori Beaman, Economics

Abstract: The low levels of adoption of simple agricultural technologies among African farmers is one of the largest puzzles in development economics. In this paper, Beaman and Dillon investigate whether a lack of credible information on how to use the technologies, and the value of the technologies, is a barrier to adoption. In other contexts, social networks are an important mechanism for diffusing information when formal institutions are missing.  In this paper, the authors investigate the effectiveness of social networks in diffusing agricultural information using a field experiment in Mali. The experiment introduced new information about organic composting and varied who within each study village served as the initial recipients. The study looks at how the social network position of the recipient affects the diffusion of information about composting, and provides evidence that some disadvantaged groups can be made worse off when the most connected individuals receive the information first.

Bio: Lori Beaman is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D in Economics in 2007 from Yale University. Lori is also an affiliate of J-PAL, the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). She has received grants from UNICEF, 3ie, and the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative among others.  She currently serves as an Impact Evaluation Consultant for the Millennium Challenge Corporation and as an associate editor of the Journal of Development Economics. A development economist working on microeconomic issues, Lori’s research interests are centered on two themes: social networks and gender. Her recent work has evaluated the impact of a political affirmative action program on gender bias in rural India, and how social networks affect labor market opportunities among women in Malawi, among refugees in the U.S. and the urban poor in Kolkata, India. Lori is also active on a number of ongoing field projects, including randomized field experiments in Mali and Malawi.

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