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Interpersonal, Intertemporal and Spatial Variation in Risk Perceptions: Evidence from East Africa

  • Cheryl Doss


    (Yale University)

  • John McPeak


    (Syracuse University)

  • Christopher Barrett


    (Cornell University)

This study investigates variation over time, space and household and individual characteristics in how people perceive different risks. Using original data from the arid and semi-arid lands of east Africa, we explore which risks concern individuals and how they assess their relative level of concern about these identified risks. Because these assessments were gathered for multiple time periods, sites, households and individuals within households, we are able to identify the degree to which risk perceptions vary across time, across communities, across households within a community, and across individuals within a household. We find the primary determinants of risk rankings to be changing community level variables over time, with household specific and individual specific variables exhibiting much less influence. This suggests that community based planning and monitoring of development efforts that address risk exposure should be prioritized. We also find that individuals throughout this area are most concerned about food security overall, so that development efforts that directly address this problem should be given the highest priority.

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Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 948.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:948
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  1. John G. McPeak, 2003. "Analyzing and Addressing Localized Degradation in the Commons," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(4), pages 515-536.
  2. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  3. Lybbert, Travis J. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Desta, Solomon & Coppock, D. Layne, 2002. "Stochastic Wealth Dynamics And Risk Management Among A Poor Population," Working Papers 14736, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  4. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
  5. Matthew Rabin., 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Economics Working Papers 97-251, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Lybbert, Travis J. & Barrett, Christopher B. & McPeak, John G. & Luseno, Winnie K., 2007. "Bayesian Herders: Updating of Rainfall Beliefs in Response to External Forecasts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 480-497, March.
  7. Haro, Guyo O. & Doyo, Godana J. & McPeak, John G., 2005. "Linkages Between Community, Environmental, and Conflict Management: Experiences from Northern Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 285-299, February.
  8. Christine M. Moser & Christopher B. Barrett, 2006. "The complex dynamics of smallholder technology adoption: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(3), pages 373-388, November.
  9. Smith, Kevin & Barrett, Christopher B. & Box, Paul W., 2000. "Participatory Risk Mapping for Targeting Research and Assistance: With an Example from East African Pastoralists," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 1945-1959, November.
  10. 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.
  11. C. Barrett & K. Smith & P. Box, 2001. "Not Necessarily In The Same Boat: Heterogeneous Risk Assessment Among East African Pastoralists," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(5), pages 1-30.
  12. FFF1Christoph NNN1Bühler & FFF2Hans-Peter NNN2Kohler, 2003. "Talking about AIDS," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(13), pages 397-438, September.
  13. Luseno, Winnie K. & McPeak, John G. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Little, Peter D. & Gebru, Getachew, 2003. "Assessing the Value of Climate Forecast Information for Pastoralists: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(9), pages 1477-1494, September.
  14. Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & Susan C. Watkins, 2003. "Social Networks, HIV/AIDS and Risk Perceptions," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-007, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  15. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
  16. Lentz, Erin C. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2004. "Food Aid Targeting, Shocks And Private Transfers Among East African Pastoralists," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20247, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  17. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
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