Essays in Development Economics on Agricultural Innovation and Redistributive Pressures

  • Isabelle Bonjean

Student thesis: Doc typesDocteur en Sciences économiques et de gestion


This thesis is divided between two topics. Part one deals with innovation adoption in the context of an agricultural extension programme in the Peruvian highlands. The second part is on redistributive pressure and mutual help within Camerounian extended families. Both topics have been studied empirically through the collection of first hand data. New theoretical models rationalize the findings.

Innovation adoption is one of the most relevant topics for research in development economics. Indeed, in most developing countries, agriculture represents the main income generating activity for the major share of the population and the limited alternative income sources confer to this sector a key role regarding poverty alleviation. In conditions of acute land pressure and/or poor soil fertility, an increase in farmer's production will not be possible unless technical progress takes place on a large scale. However, since farmers' perceptions of the return to these technologies might be biased, transforming technological advances into agricultural improvement has always relied strongly on the efficiency in transferring knowledge and inputs to them. In the first chapter of part one, co-authored with Jean-Philippe Platteau and Vincenzo Verardi, we seek to understand the liquidity constraint to agricultural innovation when technical assistance is transmitted through local private agents. The second chapter analyses how market structure can affect social mobility and the underlying incentive to innovation.

The second part of this thesis deals with another current hot topic of the literature in development economics: redistributive pressure and their potential negative economic consequences. This research is co-authored with Jean-Marie Baland, Catherine Guirkinger and Roberta Ziparo. In sub-saharan Africa traditional systems of mutual help operate mostly within the extended family network. In the absence of well-developed markets for credit and insurance, this network plays a major role as a traditional system of mutual help. However the taxation implicit in family transfers has large disincentive effects as well, in particular on effort and investment. Our analysis shows that, in Cameroon, the large majority of transfers follow a given pattern whereby elder siblings support their younger siblings in the early stages of their lives who in turn reciprocate by supporting their elder siblings when they have children. We interpret this pattern as a generalized system of reciprocal credit within the extended family.
la date de réponse27 mai 2015
langue originaleAnglais
L'institution diplômante
  • Universite de Namur
SuperviseurJean-Philippe Platteau (Promoteur), Catherine Guirkinger (Promoteur), Mathias Hungerbuhler (Président), Jean-Marie Baland (Jury), François Bourguignon (Jury) & Michael Grimm (Jury)

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