Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Africa Section



AAEA has a new section started – the Africa Section.  We are holding our inaugural section organizing meeting on Sunday, July 26 in Sierra H at 11:30.  If you are working in Africa or has an interest in working in Africa, or working with people working in Africa and just want to learn more about doing research, teaching and outreach in Africa, come join us for conversations about how we can organize the Africa Section into a vibrant and exciting section in our Association.  If you have questions, please contact Vincent Amanor-Boadu at vincent@ksu.edu.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people and discovering some creative ways of enhancing scholarship in Africa and increasing the vibrancy of African agricultural and applied economics within AAEA.

Member Blog: Jeffrey Bloem

Measuring hope: Lessons from rural Myanmar

Jeffrey Bloem is a Master’s student in Michigan State University’s Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics. Follow him on Twitter @JeffBloem and on his blog.

As behavioral economics has become the mainstream of economic science, there has been a growing recognition that economic behavior is often influenced by historical experience, social observation, and individual aspirations. A recent demonstration of this can be found in a widely discussed article published last May in Science. Banerjee et al. (2015) speculate about the specific mechanisms driving the results of their evaluation of a multi-dimensional program aiming to ‘graduate’ participants from poverty, saying:

Perhaps this program worked by making beneficiaries feel that they mattered, that the rest of society cared about them, that with this initial help they now had some control over their future well-being, and therefore, the future could become better. (p. 14)
Several other studies have aimed to measure the formation of aspirations in India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Peru. They all demonstrate something fundamental about human behavior, particularly when surrounded by life-stealing poverty.

Psychologists (see Snyder, 2002 for a summary) say hope is comprised of three elements: aspirations (or some specific goal), avenues (or a visualized pathway toward aspired outcomes), and agency (or a feeling one can attain aspired outcomes). In a working paper, Travis Lybbert and Bruce Wydick (2015) draw a distinction between wishful hope, which they call “Hope 1,” and aspirational hope, which they call “Hope 2,” Of primary interest to development economists then is “Hope 2,” as aspirations without sufficient agency or avenues could become wishful and relatively inconsequential in economic decision making.

I’ve been part of a team of researchers trying to contextualize this research to Myanmar. The Myanmar Development Resource Institute (MDRI) is a think-tank established to provide independent policy analysis and research related to economic reform, poverty reduction, and improved governance. Michigan State University’s Food Security Group and IFPRI have partnered with MDRI to provide technical support on an agricultural and livelihood household survey of Mon State (a coastal region close to Thailand in Southern Myanmar).

An early draft of this household survey included a module on aspirations, a set of questions that looked almost identical to those previously used in Ethiopia and Pakistan. During pilot testing, however, this module was found to frustrate respondents. After hours of questions about intricate details of their lives, questions regarding their aspirational hopes (or a lack thereof) upset many respondents. These experiences ultimately led enumerators to unanimously vote to drop this module from the questionnaire....

Read entire blog on Economics that Really Matter

Monday, July 20, 2015

Food Safety and Nutrition (FSN) Section Track Sessions



 

Modeling Current Issues in Food System Analysis

This session examines four presentations from a variety of lenses in food and agribusiness management. The common threads among them are consumer preferences, prices, and information dissemination/acquisition. Each paper uses a different data source, a different analysis approach, and a different food policy issue. The discussant will assimilate the papers into common themes and we hope for lively audience participation in the time allocated for discussion.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Chen Zhen, RTI International: Food Access and Prices: Estimating Food-at-home Demand
  • Jane Kolodinsky, University of Vermont: GM Labeling and the Use of the Word “Natural” 
  • Karen E. Lewis, University of Tennessee: Analyzing the Determinants of Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Soft Drinks Labeled with Calorie and Sweetener Information 
  • Christiane Schroeter, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo: A Dynamic Model Estimation of Tax and Subsidy Impacts on Obesity
Christiane Schroeter of Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored by the Econometrics Section and will take place on Monday, July 27th between 9:45 AM and 11:15 AM in Sierra I. Don’t miss this session, it promises to provide some interesting insights into various controversial topics.

Hunger Relief Programs: Exploring Methods to Improve Food Access

In this invited paper session, we will explore hunger relief programs in the U.S. and consider these programs as an important area of research for applied economists. The session will highlight the importance of the food bank network in meeting food needs of persons who are food insecure. We will identify areas to improve the efficiency of hunger relief programs, and we will also address methods to improve the nutrition of the offerings of these programs. The papers reflect ongoing research from behavioral economics to supply chain analysis. In the session, we will engage the members of the AAEA and WAEA in research opportunities at food banks and their agencies.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Norbert Wilson, Auburn University: Hunger Relief Programs and Behavioral Economics: An Introduction
  • Robert King, University of Minnesota: How Healthy Is Hunger Relief Food? 
  • Miguel I. Gomez, Cornell University: Improving Food Bank Gleaning Operations: An Application in New York State
Ginny Sorensen, Education and Training Programs Manager of the Oregon Food Bank will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored with the Senior Section and will take place on Monday, July 27th between 1-2:30 PM in Salon 1.

Children’s food choices throughout the day: Looking beyond the school lunchroom

Although multiple initiatives are already underway to try to manipulate children’s food choices in elementary and secondary school lunchrooms, there remains a concern that healthful lunchtime choices might be counteracted by compensatory behavior at other times of day. Children and adolescents have remarkable spending power, both potential and actual. However, most traditional research has ignored the economic activity and decisions of these young consumers, with only a few exceptions. More generally, the process by which children make food-purchasing decisions is not well understood, despite evidence that children have considerable autonomous purchasing power, and that much of it is directed toward food. Those few studies that do exist suggest that the bulk of this autonomous food purchasing behavior is directed toward energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods (e.g., Borradaile et al. 2009, Wang et al. 2007).

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Monika Hartmann, University of Bonn, Germany: Children’s purchase behavior in the snack market: The role of internal and external factors
  • Drew Hanks, Ohio State University: School lunches and daily calorie intake 
  • Sean B. Cash, Tufts University: Using price promotions to encourage healthier snack purchases by children in corner stores
Studying this behavior across a variety of food environments is crucial to understanding the total impact of environmental influences upon children’s dietary and health outcomes. This session reports on the results of three novel studies using very different approaches to understand children’s food choice and consumption patterns: dietary recall studies on what children eat throughout the day, children’s responses to snack food brands in choice experiments, and children’s responses to food price interventions in convenience stores.

Helen Jensen of Iowa State University will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored by IBES. It will take place on Monday, July 27th between 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM in Sierra H. Make sure to stop by for this session- we look forward to seeing you!

Including Subjective Beliefs in Empirical Models of Choice and Preferences:  Methodological and Food Policy Implications

Agricultural economists estimate WTP for product attributes or policy options routinely. But what kind of inference can be drawn from such estimates? A decision not to pay premium prices for organics may indicate a low valuation of environmental or health outcomes (i.e. preference). Or, it could be that the consumer does not believe that organic production will deliver such outcomes (beliefs, see Lusk, Schroeder, and Tonsor 2013). As many outcomes associated to labeled attributes (or policy alternatives) are credence in nature, many consumers’ decisions are based on both preferences and beliefs. Without accounting for beliefs, researchers cannot understand what exactly consumers are trying to buy with their food dollars, and policy recommendations based on confounded WTP estimates may be misguided. The debate over the inclusion of subjective beliefs in models of choice has just started in the food economics literature, and many issues remain unresolved. Several belief elicitation methods have been proposed, including likert scales, the probabilistic quantification of the likelihood of an outcome, or indirect experimental approaches (see Costanigro, Deselnicu, and Kroll 2014). Another important problem relates to how to address (or avoid) endogeneity in regression models including subjective beliefs as right-hand-side variables. The session is comprised of four papers presenting alternative methods for belief elicitation and approaches to econometric estimation.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Jayson L. Lusk, Oklahoma State University: Measuring beliefs about expected prices: Reference-Dependent Decision Making when the Reference Price is Uncertain
  • Marco Costanigro, Colorado State University: Consumer Preferences for Chianti Geographical Indications Controlling for Taste Expectations 
  • Gregory Howard, East Carolina University: Perceived Program Effectiveness and Farmer Preferences for Agricultural Incentive Programs 
  • Yuko Onozaka, University of Stavanger: Including Subjective Beliefs in a Model of Salmon Consumption: a Random Matching Approach
In addition to highlighting the pros and cons of each approach, we expect the discussion to focus on how accounting for beliefs can augment and improve the conclusions drawn from surveys and choice experiments. Brian Roe, Ohio State University will serve as the discussant. The session is co-sponsored by FAMPS and will take place on Monday, July 27th between 2:45 and 4:15 PM in Sierra K.

Costs and Consequences of Recent Legislation Affecting Dairy and Food Safety

This organized session will focus on impacts related to parts of two key pieces of legislation, namely, the Dairy Title of the 2014 Farm Bill, and the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. Specific focus will be given to how the new regulations and policies will be implemented, projected costs, and other implications for US farms, food processors, and other agribusiness. The potential implications of these policies on the profitability and risk of farms and smaller-scale agribusiness firms will be of particular focus.
  • John Bovay, ERS-USDA: Implementing FSMA Produce Rules: Cost Variation by Commodity and Region
  • Kathryn Boys, NC State University: Foreign Supplier Verification Requirements: FSMA's long reach into international food and feed markets 
  • Marin Bozic, University of Minnesota: The Analysis of Dairy Margin Protection Program Adoption Decisions Using Administrative Enrollment Data. 
  • Fanda Yang, University of Minnesota: Understanding Dairy Farm Financial Risk
Martha Sullins of Colorado State University will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored by ARA and will take place on Monday, July 27th between 4:30 and 6 PM in Sierra E.

Understanding and Analyzing IRI Scanner Data

Government agencies and academic researchers are increasingly using proprietary commercial data on point-of-sale and household food purchases. Previously, many high profile research projects conducted in collaboration with the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) relied on Nielsen Homescan household-based scanner data spanning the years 1999-2010. However, ERS has more recently begun acquiring more extensive data from IRI including household-based scanner data (Consumer Network), retail scanner data (InfoScan), detailed nutrition data at the UPC level, and health and wellness data for a subset of the households (RxPulse and MedProfiler) spanning the years 2008-2013. With the availability of these new data, it is important to understand the characteristics and statistical properties of the data because these may have important implications for interpreting analysis results. Furthermore, it is now possible to conduct more extensive analyses than in previous years. The purpose of this session is to present and discuss analyses examining the properties of the data and results of initial analyses.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Christiane Schroeter, Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo: Using IRI Household Data: An Application to Produce Purchasing Behavior and Health Outcomes
  • Chen Zhen, RTI International: Do Differences in Reported Expenditures between Commercial Household-based Scanner Data and Government Surveys Matter in a Structural Model of Food Demand? 
  • David Levin, USDA/ERS: Product Entry and Exit: Evidence and Nutrient Content Implications 
  • Kristen Capogrossi, RTI International: Differences in the Estimated Value of Health Labeling Statements to Consumers between IRI and Gladson Nutrition Data: Breakfast Cereal and Soup
Carlos Carpio of Texas Tech University will be the moderator. The session is co-sponsored by GSS and will take place on Monday, July 27th between 4:30 PM and 6 PM in Sierra H.

These presentations will be of great value to graduate students and to food policy researchers who would like to gain an understanding of how the data may be used to address a broad range of research questions.

Acing the Race to Tenure: A Forum on Publication and Career Strategies

Applied economists usually begin their first academic jobs well-equipped with many tools and methods for evaluating economic issues. However, navigating the many aspects and demands of the Tenure-track Assistant Professor position can be daunting. Being successful in the field requires evaluation through peer-reviewed publications as well being able to balance commitments in other facets of the job. Delivering award winning teaching, securing external grant funding, supervising multiple graduate students, can easily turn from career boosting opportunities into costly time sinks. Not to mention the ‘oh so’ important engagement in committee work. The ability to say ‘no’ at the right time and a clear early-career strategy can pave the way to getting Tenure. This track session brings together early-career and experienced members of the academic community to provide tips, share experiences, and discuss how to ‘Ace the Race to Tenure.’

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Sven Anders, University of Alberta: “Spreading it thin”- Managing projects and other time sinks
  • Lisa House, University of Florida: Strategies for successful teaching and grant writing 
  • David Just, Cornell University: Publishing inside and outside of your field 
  • Wade Brorsen, Oklahoma State University: Accept or Reject: An editor's insight
Josh Maples of Oklahoma State University will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored by the Graduate Student Section and will take place on Tuesday, July 28th between 9:45 AM and 11:15 AM in Pacific J. Make sure to stop by for this session- we look forward to seeing you!

Analyzing Food Choices: The Effects of Social Networks, Nutrition Facts in Lunchrooms and Cognitive Abilities

Food choices are influenced by an abundance of determinants. This session sheds light whether and to what extent a relationship between menu labeling, i.e. the posted caloric content of each item next to its price on the menu board, and food consumption exists. One study determines the impact of social networks, healthy eating, physical activity information, and economic incentives on body weight outcomes with the goal to arrive at policy solutions for problems that are inherently based in relatively large, social network environments. Furthermore, the role of cognitive developmental measures in predicting children's response to food prices, warning labels, and other attributes is investigated.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Carola Grebitus, Arizona State University: Analyzing Social Network Effects on Students’ Food Choices in School Lunchrooms
  • Christiane Schroeter, Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo: Do Social Networks Improve the Effectiveness of Incentive-Based Health Programs? 
  • Sean B. Cash, Tufts University: Children's cognitive abilities and food choices
Helen Jensen of Iowa State University will be the moderator. This session is co-sponsored by FAMPS. It will take place on Tuesday, July 28th between 1 and 2:30 PM in Sierra B. Make sure to stop by for this session!

Food Safety as a Global Public Good: Recent Advances in Strengthening the Foundation for More Effective Food Safety Management Around the World.

This session will look at several research and policy efforts designed to create the empirical foundation and policy support needed to manage foodborne disease as a globalized risk. The session will have 4 talks, 3 on research and 1 providing perspective on the forthcoming UN statement on food safety and nutrition followed by a discussant. Laurian Unnevehr will discuss recent efforts by the FAO/WHO to recognize the role of food safety in international nutrition policy as part of the Second International Conference on Nutrition. This effort will result in the first new declaration on nutrition policy actions in twenty-two years supported by member nations of the UN. Sandra Hoffmann will present results of a large multi-national research effort organized by the WHO designed to provide the first global estimates of the incidence and burden of foodborne disease. This effort provides regional estimates that are globally comparable and link foodborne disease to specific food exposures, and creates a foundation for risk-based country-level interventions. Clare Narrod will present research developing metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition training programs designed to build capacity to manage food safety in developing countries as well as the metrics approach being used to evaluate coordinated investments in food safety capacity under the World Bank’s Global Food Safety Partnership. Kevin Chen will present research on China’s new effort to strengthen food safety regulation that provides an important national-level example of institutional development and investment in strengthening food safety institutions.


Speakers in this track session are:
  • Sandra Hoffmann, USDA Economic Research Service: WHO’s First Global Estimates of Foodborne Disease: What Are They and What Might They Mean for Food Safety Policy.
  • Clare Narrod, U. of Maryland, JIFSAN: Building Capacity to Assure Food Safety in Low Income Countries: Progress Report on JIFSAN’s Training Initiatives
  • Kevin Chen, International Food Policy Research Institute: Food Safety Regulatory System in China: Key Elements for Improving Regulatory Effectiveness.
  • Laurian Unnevehr, University of Illinois: The Role of Food Safety in the FAO/WHO Second International Conference on Nutrition


Our discussant, Helen Jensen, Iowa State University, will provide a perspective on how these and other efforts are likely to affect the ability to manage food safety risks around the world. The session is co-sponsored by FAMPS and will take place on Tuesday, July 28th between 2:45 and 4:15 PM in Sierra K.


Advancing Behavioral Methods for Assessing Consumer Demand:Applications to Food Safety and Animal Welfare

Agricultural and applied economists are continually challenged to assess the value consumers ascribe to key credence attributes attached to food. These attributes, which include safety, nutritional and locational aspects of food, draw on preferences that may be particularly difficult to assess as these preferences may be particularly sensitive to the amount, type and format of information provided and, hence, sensitive to any cognitive anomalies associated with the burgeoning field of behavioral economics. The papers in this session apply and expand existing methods of assessing consumer preferences for credence attributes of foods that may be particularly subject to behavioral anomalies, including the role of patriotism in assessing preferences for food safety, the role of retail outlet in evaluating food safety information and the role of order effects in assessing the demand for animal welfare certifications.

Speakers in this track session are:
  • Brenna Ellison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Are All Organic Labels Treated Equally? The Influence of Retail Outlet on Consumer Perceptions of and Willingness-to-Pay for Organic Tomatoes
  • David Ortega, Michigan State University: Chinese Demand for Pork and Implications for the US Pork Industry: Experimental Results from Mainland and Hong Kong Consumers
  • Ying (Jessica) Cao, University of Guelph: Order Effects on the Prediction of Consumer Behaviors in Repeated Choice Experiments

Wuyang Hu, University of Kentucky, will be moderator and Brian Roe, Ohio State University, will be discussant. This session is co-sponsored by IBES and takes place on Tuesday, July 28th between 4:30 and 6 PM in Sierra J. Don’t miss this session, as it will provide some interesting insights into consumer demand.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Webinar: The Geography of the Recent Growth in Rural Child Poverty


Child poverty in rural (nonmetropolitan) areas grew by over 5%  between 1999 and 2013, to affect over 25% of rural children.  This growth was uneven across rural counties: child poverty increased by over 10 percent in some counties, but declined in others.  This presentation examines 3 factors affecting rural child poverty over the period: changing economic opportunities, rising young-adult education levels, and increasing proportion of children in single-parent households.  While a decline in high school dropout rates among young adults was associated with lower child poverty rates, weak or declining local economies and substantial increases in single-parent households were associated with higher child poverty rates.  

Join the Webinar

Streaming audio available through your computer.