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AJAE Virtual Issue: Development Economics

In his 1979 Nobel Prize Lecture, development economist Theodore W. Schultz observed: “Most of the people in the world are poor, so if we knew the economics of being poor, we would know much of the economics that really matters. Most of the world's poor people earn their living from agriculture, so if we knew the economics of agriculture, we would know much of the economics of being poor.” The subsequent years have seen rapid urbanization in many countries, but the insight that agriculture is crucial to the economic lives of many of the world’s poor remains important to policy-makers and researchers alike. As a testament to the enduring validity of Schultz’s statement, agriculture has experienced a resurgence among development economists in the past decade.

This virtual issue of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics showcases ten recent articles that have pushed the frontiers of empirical development economics. The authors of these articles combine an understanding of underlying bio-physical structure and dynamics with careful attention to identification and statistical inference to shed light on policy-relevant questions. These curated articles address many of the most pressing issues in development economics, particularly as related to agriculture. Several articles focus on the dynamics of agri-food markets and their impact on the welfare of farmers, consumers and the broader society. Others explore potential mechanisms behind poverty traps and the crucial interface between environment and development. A final set of articles make novel contributions to one of the original areas of inquiry in development economics: technology adoption.

Agriculture will continue to dominate the lives of many of the world’s poor for the foreseeable future. There are many yet untapped opportunities for development economists to improve our understanding of the complex and sometimes subtle interactions between the behavior of producers and consumers, agri-food markets, and the bio-physical processes on which global and local food security rests. By casting light on research frontiers, the articles in this virtual issue may just help to define where these opportunities lay.

Extreme Weather and Civil War: Does Drought Fuel Conflict in Somalia through Livestock Price Shocks?
Jean-François Maystadt and Olivier Ecker American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96 (4): 1157-1182.

Rising Food Prices, Food Price Volatility, and Social Unrest
Marc F. Bellemare American Journal of Agricultural Economics 97 (1): 1-21.

Information, Mobile Telephony, and Traders' Search Behavior in Niger
Jesse Tack and Jenny C. Aker American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96 (5): 1439-1454.

Small Farmers, NGOs, and a Walmart World: Welfare Effects of Supermarkets Operating in Nicaragua
Hope C. Michelson American Journal of Agricultural Economics 95 (3): 628-649.

Traps and Thresholds in Pastoralist Mobility
Russell Toth American Journal of Agricultural Economics 97 (1): 315-332.

Income and the Environment in Rural India: Is There a Poverty Trap?
Haimanti Bhattacharya and Robert Innes American Journal of Agricultural Economics 95 (1): 42-69.

An Efficient Nonmarket Institution under Imperfect Markets: Labor Sharing for Tropical Forest Clearing
Yoshito Takasaki, Oliver T. Coomes, Christian Abizaid and Stéphanie Brisson American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96 (3): 711–732.

Does Sharecropping Affect Long-term Investment? Evidence from West Bengal's Tenancy Reforms
Klaus Deininger, Songqing Jin and Vandana Yadav American Journal of Agricultural Economics 95 (3): 772–790.

Neighbors and Extension Agents in Ethiopia: Who Matters More for Technology Adoption?
Pramila Krishnan and Manasa Patnam American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96 (1): 308–327.

Behavioral Responses and the Impact of New Agricultural Technologies: Evidence from a Double-blind Field Experiment in Tanzania
Erwin Bulte, Gonne Beekman, Salvatore Di Falco, Joseph Hella and Pan Lei American Journal of Agricultural Economics 96 (3): 813–830.

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