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Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya

  • Esther Duflo
  • Michael Kremer
  • Jonathan Robinson

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. 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. Calibration suggests that this policy can yield higher welfare than either laissez-faire policies or heavy subsidies. (JEL Q13, Q12, Q16, Q18)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (October)
Pages: 2350-90

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:6:p:2350-90
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  1. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2008. "How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 482-88, May.
  2. Gulati, Ashok & Narayanan, Sudha, 2003. "The Subsidy Syndrome in Indian Agriculture," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195662061, March.
  3. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton, 1992. "Distortionary Taxes and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 117-131, Summer.
  4. Michael Morris & Valerie A. Kelly & Ron J. Kopicki & Derek Byerlee, 2007. "Fertilizer Use in African Agriculture : Lessons Learned and Good Practice Guidelines," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6650.
  5. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
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