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Ambiguity Aversion as a Predictor of Technology Choice: Experimental Evidence from Peru

  • Jim Engle-Warnick
  • Javier Escobal
  • Sonia Laszlo

The lack of adoption of new farming technologies despite known benefis is a well-documented phenomenon in development economics. In addition to a number of market constraints, risk aversion predominates the discussion of behavioral determinants of technology adoption. We hypothesize that ambiguity aversion may also be a determinant, since farmers may have less information about the distribution of yield outcomes from new technologies compared with traditional technologies. We test this hypothesis with a laboratory experiment in the field in which we measure risk and ambiguity preferences. We combine our experiment with a survey in which we collect information on farm decisions and identify market constraints. We find that ambiguity aversion does indeed predict actual technology choices on the farm. Un phénomène bien documenté en économie du développement est le nombre peu élevé d'agriculteurs qui décident d'adopter de nouvelles technologies en agriculture, malgré leurs avantages connus. En plus des nombreuses contraintes imposées par le marché, l'aversion au risque prédomine la discussion sur les déterminants de l'adoption de nouvelles technologies. Nous émettons l'hypothèse que l'aversion à l'ambiguïté pourrait aussi être un déterminant puisqu'il est possible que les agriculteurs aient moins d'information sur la distribution du rendement des nouvelles technologies que sur celle des technologies traditionnelles. Nous testons la validité de cette hypothèse avec une expérience en laboratoire sur le terrain où nous mesurons les préférences vis-à-vis du risque et de l'ambiguïté. Nous combinons notre expérience à un sondage portant sur les décisions prises en matière d'agriculture et identifiant les contraintes du marché. Nous constatons qu'effectivement, l'aversion à l'ambiguïté dicte les choix technologiques réels relatifs à la ferme.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2007s-01.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2007s-01
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  1. Mark Rosenzweig & Andrew D. Foster, . "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Home Pages _068, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Feder, Gershon, 1980. "Farm Size, Risk Aversion and the Adoption of New Technology under Uncertainty," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 263-83, July.
  3. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1993. "Modeling Technology Adoption in Developing Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 396-402, May.
  4. Jovanovic, B. & Nyarko, Y., 1996. "Learning by Doing and the Choice of Technology," Working Papers 96-25, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  6. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Conley, T.G. & Udry, C.R., 2000. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," Papers 817, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  8. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  9. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2010. "Portfolio Choice And Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 133-146, 01.
  10. Rigotti, L. & Ryan, M. & Vaithianathan, R., 2001. "Entrepreneurial Innovation," Discussion Paper 2001-21, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  11. Jim Engle-Warnick & Javier Escobal & Sonia Laszlo, 2005. "The Effect of an Additional Alternative on Measured Risk Preferences in a Field Experiment," Experimental 0511003, EconWPA.
  12. Antle, John M & Crissman, Charles C, 1990. "Risk, Efficiency, and the Adoption of Modern Crop Varieties: Evidence from the Philippines," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(3), pages 517-37, April.
  13. Jim Engle-Warnick & Sonia Laszlo Author Email: sonia.laszlo@mcgill.ca, 2006. "Learning By Doing In An Ambiguous Environment," Departmental Working Papers 2006-29, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  14. Feder, Gershon & Just, Richard E & Zilberman, David, 1985. "Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-98, January.
  15. Shahabuddin, Quazi & Mestelman, Stuart & Feeny, David, 1986. "Peasant Behaviour towards Risk and Socio-Economic and Structural Characteristics of Farm Households in Bangladesh," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 122-30, March.
  16. Munshi, Kaivan, 2004. "Social learning in a heterogeneous population: technology diffusion in the Indian Green Revolution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 185-213, February.
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