Progress, Research Results, and Major Research Findings in 2010
2010 saw significant expansion of the activity and reach of the Food Security Portal, with visits to the site reaching 7,300 by the end of December. The Food For Thought blog has proven to be a particularly useful tool, with blog posts drawing media attention from The Economist, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other outlets worldwide. In addition, a model of price abnormality based on an estimator described by project researchers Maximo Torero, Carlos Martins-Filho, and Feng Yao of West Virginia University in the paper Two-step conditional -quantile estimation via additive models of location and scale has been used to create a tool that tracks abnormalities in commodities futures prices. This research will be instrumental in reducing price volatility through analysis of futures markets.
Plans for 2011
2011 will focus on the creation and expansion of a private Members Atrium as part of the Food Security Portal, which will allow for more focused, research-based discussion of global and regional food policy issues. This Atrium includes forums for 11 countries/regions; member lists for these countries will be built with the help of in-country collaborating organizations who will act as ―champions‖ of the Food Security Portal and its network, establishing contacts, expanding our network, and collecting important food security research and analysis. National policy dialogues are planned for early 2011 in a majority of these countries/regions in order to introduce members to the Atrium and discuss how the space can be used to identify gaps in global and regional price information systems and foster dialogue regarding food security issues.
PROJECT 5: ASPIRATIONS AND WELL-BEING OUTCOMES IN ETHIOPIA IFPRI Team:
Project Duration: Objectives of project
MTID: Tanguy Bernard ESSP/DSGD: Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse University of Oxford: Stefan Dercon June 2007–March 2010
The objective of this project is to bring an empirical content to the so-called Aspiration failure theory developed initially by Arjun Appadurai and formalized by Debraj Ray. Accordingly, the lack of proactive behavior to better one‘s future can in part be explained by constraints faced in the process of forming aspirations. These constraints are particularly prevalent among poorer populations, contributing to what may be referred to as aspiration-failure induced poverty traps.
The aspiration failure framework provides complementary insights to the growing literature attempting to explain low investments by poorer populations despite important potential returns (e.g. lack of information, market failures, low private appropriation of returns, identity issues, psychological factors and others). In particular, being a socially determined individual attribute, it may prove a useful handle on the individual-group symbiosis that seems to be key to economic growth and socio- economic transformation.
Research Approach The research program was developed in several steps, with support from IFPRI and several external partners.
Step 1: Correlations. A specific aspiration module was added to a large household survey conducted by CHF-Partners in Ethiopia. The data collected was used to assess basic correlations between aspirations, aspiration window and investment behavior. The results obtained strongly matched the key predictions of the said theory, thereby warranting further explorations.
Step 2: Measurement. An instrument was specifically designed to measure various dimensions of individual-level aspirations and aggregate them altogether. The instrument was tested for validity, reliability and applicability, on a purposive sub-sample of the ERHS households in central Ethiopia. Test results supported the use of the instrument for later experiment.
Step 3: Treatment. A competitive grant from the SEVEN Fund was utilized to select ten success stories from rural Ethiopia, whereby individuals had significantly improved their situation by taking actions that any of their neighbors could have taken but did not. A 15-minute documentary was prepared on each selected story, providing details on the individual‘s initial situation and the various steps taken to reach his/her current situation.
Step 4: Experiment. A research grant from DFID‘s iiG (Improving Institutions for Pro-poor Growth) is being used to fully test the aspiration failure framework, in collaboration with a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) program of CARE Ethiopia. Baseline data were collected on 2200 individuals in 64 villages, after which individuals were randomly invited to watch a subset of the documentaries complied in Step 3. Another random subset was invited to watch a placebo consisting of Ethiopian standard TV show. The sampling design further allows identifying individual versus group effects of documentaries on one‘s changes in aspirations and participation to the VSLA program. The follow-up survey is currently being implemented.
Progress, Research Results, Major Research Findings in 2010 Steps one through three described above have been completed. Work is ongoing on step four – Experiment. Plans for 2011 In 2011, the team will continue to work on the follow-up survey which is currently being implemented.
2010 Internal Program Review-Markets, Trade and Institutions Division Page 19
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