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Trial Title Conventional Roles, Information Asymmetries and the Intergenerational Flow of Agricultural Innovations: Evidence from a School-based Agricultural Education Program in Liberia Conventional Roles, Information Frictions and the Intergenerational Transmission of Agricultural Practices in a School-based Agricultural Extension Program in Liberia
Abstract The convenient benchmark of Pareto efficiency in intra-household resource allocation faces empirical challenges when household members have disincentives to share information in decisions such as savings, fertility and investments (Ashraf, 2009; Ashraf et al, 2014; Ozier and Jakiela, 2015). While barriers to information flows caused by conflicting preferences present a challenge for efficient household models, there are no clear policy recommendations because lifting these barriers involves difficult tradeoffs. For instance, when discussing whether contraceptives should be delivered to women in a manner that is concealed from their husbands, Ashraf et al (2014) note that there is a tradeoff between privately improving women's set of choices and lowering the conjugal value of marriage. This paper explores barriers to information flows in production that are not caused by conflicts in preferences. Instead, these barriers are caused by miscoordination of expectations due to an interplay of conventional roles and asymmetric information about changes in one party's production expertise; and thus, through interventions that tackle the information asymmetry, mutually agreeable interactions between household members can be exploited to achieve policy objectives. I study the flow of information about agricultural innovations across generations in a school-based agricultural education (SBAE) program in Liberia. A shift away from students' conventional roles as assistants on farms is needed as the program leverages students (aged 12-20) as agents of diffusion. I hypothesize that given an information asymmetry between students and their household elders about students' learning activities in schools, both parties form expectations about opponent behavior that are influenced by the status quo in production, thus failing to coordinate on costly interactions that foster information diffusion, including efforts in communicating and learning promoted practices (Hanna et al, 2014; BenYishay and Mobarak, 2019) and application of promoted practices on students' farms. I implement household-level randomized interventions to identify the effects of interventions tackling (i) information barriers facing elders; and (ii) \emph{additional} barriers to information flows due to students' 2nd-order uncertainty about elders' expectations about whether they have relevant farming attributes, holding constant elders' expectations and preferences for interactions with students. This experiment is embedded in a general randomized evaluation of the school-based agricultural education program (AEARCTR-0006671). This study examines barriers to adjustments in intra-household resource allocation that are driven not by conflicting preferences but by miscoordination of actions due to an interplay of conventional roles and information asymmetry. I study household production responses to a school-based agricultural extension program in Liberia. Conventionally, students (aged 12-20) work as assistants to their elders on farms. Students' agency is critical in catalyzing program impact but might be hindered if permission from their elders in changing farm resource allocation is required. Given descriptive evidence on costs in bargaining over resource allocation and social norms that discourage the reversal of conventional roles, I hypothesize that household responses to the program are hindered by two issues. First, elders have incomplete information about the potential effects of the program. Second, holding elders' preferences and expectations constant, students' actions are hindered by uncertainty about elders' expectations about their learning progress. I test the hypotheses in a two-year field experiment. This experiment is embedded in a general randomized evaluation of the school-based agricultural education program (AEARCTR-0006671).
Last Published August 09, 2022 11:28 PM January 12, 2023 11:39 AM
Additional Keyword(s) Intrahousehold flow of information; Intergenerational communication; Youth empowerment Intrahousehold resource allocation; Intrahousehold bargaining; Agriculutral Extension; Youth empowerment; Rural Education
Keyword(s) Agriculture, Behavior, Education, Gender Agriculture, Behavior, Education, Gender, Welfare
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