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Risk Preferences and Environmental Uncertainty: Implications for Crop Diversification Decisions in Ethiopia

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  • Mare Sarr and Mintewab Bezabih

Abstract

To the extent that diversifying income portfolio is used as a strategy for shielding against production risk, both individual risk preferences and weather uncertainty could affect crop diversification decisions. This paper is concerned with empirically assessing the effects of risk preferences and rainfall variability on farm level diversity. Unique panel data from Ethiopia consisting of experimentally generated risk preference measures combined with rainfall data are employed in the analysis. The major contribution of this study is its explicit treatment of individual risk preferences in the decision to diversify, simultaneously controlling for environmental risk in the form of rainfall variability. Covariate shocks from rainfall variability are found to positively contribute to an increased level of diversity with individual risk aversion having a positive but less significant role. We find that rainfall variability in spring has a greater effect than rainfall variability summer—the major rainy season. This finding is in line with similar agronomic-meteorological studies. These results imply that in situ biodiversity conservation could be effective in areas with high rainfall variability. However, reduction in risk aversion, which is associated with poverty reduction, is likely to reduce in situ conservation.

Suggested Citation

  • Mare Sarr and Mintewab Bezabih, 2013. "Risk Preferences and Environmental Uncertainty: Implications for Crop Diversification Decisions in Ethiopia," Working Papers 322, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:322
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Crop diversity; Experimental risk preferences; Rainfall; Uncertainty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions

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