Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya
AbstractWhile many developing-country policymakers see heavy fertilizer subsidies as critical to raising agricultural productivity, most economists see them as distortionary, regressive, environmentally unsound, and argue that they result in politicized, inefficient distribution of fertilizer supply. We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer, and assume some are stochastically present-biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Even when relatively patient, such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer (free delivery) just after harvest. Later discounts have a smaller impact, and when given a choice of price schedules, many farmers choose schedules that induce advance purchase. Calibration suggests such small, time-limited discounts yield higher welfare than either laissez faire or heavy subsidies by helping present-biased farmers commit to fertilizer use without inducing those with standard preferences to substantially overuse fertilizer.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15131.
Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Other versions of this item:
- Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2350-90, October.
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- O33 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AFR-2009-07-11 (Africa)
- NEP-AGR-2009-07-11 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-11 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEV-2009-07-11 (Development)
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