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The role of education in facilitating risk-taking and innovation in agriculture


  • John Knight
  • Sharada Weir
  • Tassew Woldehanna


The impact of education on farmers' attitudes toward endogenous risk (measured using an attitude survey instrument) is estimated with household data from rural Ethiopia. Education of the household head is found to decrease risk-aversion. Next, the effects of education and risk attitudes on technology adoption are estimated. Schooling encourages farmers to adopt innovations, whereas risk-aversion reduces the probability of adoption. Thus, we find that schooling encourages innovation, a potentially risky undertaking, not only directly but also indirectly, through its effect upon attitudes toward risk. To the extent that educated farmers are early innovators and are copied by those with less schooling (as other research on the same data has shown), the reduction of riskaversion not only has private benefits for those with education but also may have externality benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Sharada Weir & Tassew Woldehanna, 2003. "The role of education in facilitating risk-taking and innovation in agriculture," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 1-22.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:39:y:2003:i:6:p:1-22
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380312331293567

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