Alain de Janvry

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States

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Publications (222)108.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: What is the impact on voting behavior of strengthening property rights over agricultural land? To answer this question, we use the 14-year nationwide rollout of Mexico's land certification program (Procede) and match affected communities (ejidos) before and after the change in property rights with voting outcomes in corresponding electoral sections across six federal election cycles. We find that, in accordance with the investor class theory, granting complete property rights induced a conservative shift toward the pro-market party equal to 6.8 percent of its average share of votes over the period. This shift was strongest where vested interests created larger expected benefits from market-oriented policies as opposed to public-transfer policies. We also find that beneficiaries failed to reciprocate through votes for the benefactor party. We conclude that, in the Mexican experience, engaging in a land reform that strengthened individual property rights over agricultural land was politically advantageous for the right-wing party.
    Journal of Development Economics 09/2014; 110:216–225. · 2.13 Impact Factor
  • A. de Janvry, V. Dequiedt, E. Sadoulet
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, index-based insurance has been offered to smallholder farmers in the developing world to protect against common shocks such as weather shocks. Despite their attractive properties, these products have met with low demand. We consider the frequent situation where farmers are members of groups with common interests. We show that this creates strategic interactions among group members in deciding to insure that reduce the demand for insurance for two reasons. One is free riding due to positive externalities on other group members when a member chooses to insure. The other is potential coordination failure because it may not be profitable for a risk-averse member to insure if the other members do not. As a consequence, we argue that the demand for insurance against common shocks could increase if the insurance policy were sold to groups rather than to individuals.
    Journal of Development Economics 01/2014; 106:227–238. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Approximately 30% of the cultivated rice area in India is prone to crop damage from prolonged flooding. We use a randomized field experiment in 128 villages of Orissa India to show that Swarna-Sub1, a recently released submergence-tolerant rice variety, has significant positive impacts on rice yield when fields are submerged for 7 to 14 days with no yield penalty without flooding. We estimate that Swarna-Sub1 offers an approximate 45% increase in yields over the current popular variety when fields are submerged for 10 days. We show additionally that low-lying areas prone to flooding tend to be more heavily occupied by people belonging to lower caste social groups. Thus, a policy relevant implication of our findings is that flood-tolerant rice can deliver both efficiency gains, through reduced yield variability and higher expected yield, and equity gains in disproportionately benefiting the most marginal group of farmers.
    Scientific Reports 11/2013; 3:3315. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Full text includind summary available at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-6_Investing_in_smallholder_agriculture.pdf
    01/2013; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
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    01/2013; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
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    Alain De Janvry, Jean-Jacques Dethier
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines historically the World Bank's twin features: lending to developing economies to achieve tangible results and advocating specific development policies. Section 1 provides some conceptual underpinnings for the view that an effective state is essential for development. It asks whether development can be engineered, and state capacity increased, with large aid flows. Section 2 sketches the historical evolution of what characterizes the World Bank: lending to developing economies and advocacy of development policy. It concludes that, while the Bank discourse explicitly recognizes that developing countries need to improve their governance and build the capacity of the public sector to improve living standards, the Bank's performance in assisting governments in building state capacity and achieving better governance outcomes has been disappointing. Section 3 proposes an interpretation of why this has been the case. The interpretation is structural, and related to the way the Bank is organized. This concerns in particular (1) how its research is prioritized and used for decision-making, (2) how its leadership achieves a consensus between shareholders who hold different views on the role of government in the economy, and (3) how incentives for its staff emphasize disbursement and short-term success, and not capacity building and longer-term institutional sustainability.
    11/2012;
  • Jing Cai, Alain De Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet
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    ABSTRACT: Using data from a randomized experiment in rural China, this paper studies the influence of social networks on the decision to adopt a new weather insurance product and the mechanisms through which social networks operate. We provided financial education to a random subset of farmers and found a large social network effect on take-up: for untreated farmers, having an additional friend receiving financial education raised take-up by almost half as much as obtaining financial education directly, a spillover effect equivalent to offering a 15% reduction in the average insurance premium. By varying the information available to individuals about their peers’ take-up decisions and using randomized default options, we show that the positive social network effect is not driven by the diffusion of information on purchase decisions, but instead by the diffusion of knowledge about insurance. We also find that social network effects are larger in villages where households are more strongly connected, and when people who are the first to receive financial education are more central in the social network.
    SSRN Electronic Journal 10/2012;
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    01/2012; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
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    01/2012; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
  • Alain de Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet
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    ABSTRACT: Governments need the capacity to manage price instability and its social consequences; but in countries where people suffer most, they are least able to respond, because of limited fiscal and institutional resources. This article argues that policies used by middle- and high-income countries are unsuitable for poorer, agricultural countries; it recommends instead that these nations promote broader access to land and raise land productivity. The authors explain why instruments used by richer countries, such as those that control prices and cheapen food, fail in poorer countries. They describe the features of smallholder farmers in poorer countries, drawing upon evidence from India, Peru, and Guatemala to demonstrate how subsistence farming can be part of policy responses to the distress of a food crisis in both the short and medium term. They call upon donors to improve their understanding of and support for small-scale, subsistence-oriented farming. L'agriculture de subsistance comme filet de sécurité face aux chocs des prix des produits alimentaires Les gouvernements ont besoin de la capacité de gérer l'instabilité des prix et ses conséquences sociales; mais les pays où les gens en souffrent le plus sont aussi ceux qui sont le moins à même de réagir du fait de ressources fiscales et institutionnelles limitées. Cet article soutient que les politiques générales utilisées par les pays de revenu intermédiaire et élevé ne conviennent pas pour les pays agricoles plus pauvres; au lieu de cela, il recommande que ces nations favorisent un accès plus large à la terre et accroissent la productivité des terres. Les auteurs expliquent pourquoi les instruments employés par les pays les plus riches, comme ceux qui contrôlent et réduisent les prix des produits alimentaires, échouent dans les pays les plus pauvres. Ils décrivent les caractéristiques des petits agriculteurs des pays les plus pauvres, en se basant sur des données recueillies en Inde, au Pérou et au Guatemala, pour démontrer comment l'agriculture de subsistance peut faire partie des réponses de politique générale à la détresse accompagnant une crise alimentaire à court et moyen terme. Ils demandent aux bailleurs de fonds de tenter de mieux comprendre et de soutenir l'agriculture de subsistance à petite échelle. Produção rural de subsistência como rede de segurança para choques do preço dos alimentos Os governos precisam ser capazes de gerenciar a instabilidade de preço e suas consequências sociais. Porém, em países onde as pessoas mais sofrem, eles são menos capazes de responder devido aos limitados recursos fiscais e institucionais. Este artigo argumenta que políticas utilizadas por países de média – e alta – renda são inadequadas para os países mais pobres e agrícolas. O artigo recomenda, em vez disto, que estas nações promovam um maior acesso a terra e aumentem a produtividade da terra. Os autores explicam por que os instrumentos utilizados por países mais ricos, como aqueles que controlam preços e barateiam alimentos, não têm êxito. Eles descrevem as características dos pequenos produtores rurais nos países mais pobres, utilizando evidências da Índia, Peru e Guatemala para demonstrar como a produção rural de subsistência pode ser parte das respostas de políticas à adversidade de uma crise alimentar no curto e médio prazo. Eles clamam para os doadores melhorarem seu entendimento sobre a produção rural de pequena escala e de subsistência e o seu apoio a ela. La agricultura de subsistencia como amortiguador ante la inestabilidad de los precios de los alimentos Los gobiernos necesitan métodos para controlar la inestabilidad de los precios y sus consecuencias sociales. Sin embargo, en países donde la población es más vulnerable, los gobiernos están menos preparados para responder debido a sus escasos recursos económicos e institucionales. Este ensayo sostiene que las políticas que se han puesto en práctica en países de ingresos medios o altos son poco aptas para países pobres o agrícolas; por el contrario, recomienda que éstos promuevan un acceso a la tierra más amplio y aumenten la productividad agrícola. Los autores explican porqué los instrumentos utilizados por los países ricos, como el control de precios y el abaratamiento de los alimentos, no dan resultado en los países pobres. Describen las características de los pequeños productores en países pobres basándose en datos de India, Perú y Guatemala para demostrar que la agricultura de subsistencia puede ser una entre varias políticas públicas que respondan a la crisis alimentaria en el corto y mediano plazos. Los autores hacen un llamado a los donantes para que profundicen su conocimiento de, y su apoyo a, la agricultura de subsistencia a pequeña escala.
    Development in Practice 06/2011; 21(4-5):472-480.
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    ABSTRACT: Weather Index Insurance (WII) has recently gained increased attention as a tool to providing farmers coverage against losses from weather shocks. Despite extensive implementations in African and Latin Amercian countries, there is yet little empirical evidence about the effectiveness of WII. This paper is the first to analyze the economic effects of a large scale WII using new administrative data from Mexico. To study the impacts on productivity, income and risk management, our identification strategy takes advantage of the variation across counties and over time in which the insurance was rolled-out from 2003 to 2008. We find that WII significantly increases yields per hectare by 6% and WII increases income by 8%, pointing towards a positive spillover effect. Exploring the potential mechanisms of this spillover effect, we find that WII decreases the planted area of maize (Mexico's main crop) by 8%. This allows farmers to use the gained land potentially more effectively by substituting into other cash crops raising overall farm output. Important credit constraints are likely relaxed as well. Generally, we find that most significant benefits occur in 'medium' income counties, raising productivity by 8%. WII has instead less affects in the very richest counties. Overall, however, we find that Mexico's subsidized WII is cost-inefficient from a societal perspective.
    04/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its meeting of October 2010 requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to conduct a study on land tenure and international investments in agriculture and to present the findings at its next session in October 2011. The study of the HLPE is to undertake analysis and formulate policy recommendations in the following three areas: (i) the respective roles of large-scale plantations and of small-scale farming, including economic, social, gender and environmental impacts; (ii) review of the existing tools allowing the mapping of available land; and (iii) comparative analysis of tools to align large scale investments with country food security strategies. Given the breadth of this topic, the study team chose to focus on large scale investment in land. We recognize that pressures on land stem from both domestic and international investment, and the two are often linked. However, the international dimension is particularly important because of the very unequal access to resources which exists at global level. Land is becoming a global asset to be traded just like any other commodity. Yet land is different, since it provides a livelihood to more than 2 billion smallholders, many of whom are poor and food insecure. Land is also different due to the valuable environmental services it provides, and its strong social, and cultural attributes. The last five years have witnessed growing investor interest in land and agriculture. While definitive statistics are hard to obtain, widely quoted figures assert that between 50 and 80 million hectares of land have been subject to negotiations by international investors, much of it in low income countries. It is generally agreed that more investment is needed in agriculture to address the needs of current and future generations. The report recognizes the diversity of experience between regions and countries, in terms of land availability, property rights, and public policy. But if such widely quoted figures are correct, there is good reason for concern about the impact of such land acquisitions on the food security of people in many of the countries hosting such investments. Can this large scale investment bring positive outcomes, or is it bound to damage the livelihoods of local people, and generate social and environment costs? Given the central role of government in managing and negotiating such inward investment, their role is key to setting the terms and conditions for ensuring a proper balance of interests between local land users and investors, and enforcing such contractual agreements. This report sets out recommendations for governments, international institutions and investors to address the serious concerns raised by this heightened interest in land acquisition.
    01/2011; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
  • Alain de Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet
    Revue d économie du développement 01/2011; 25(1):107-114.
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    Fang Lai, Elisabeth Sadoulet, Alain de Janvry
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    ABSTRACT: We use administrative data from the lottery-based open enrollment system in Beijing middle schools to obtain unbiased estimates of school fixed effects on student performance. To do this, we classify children in selection channels, with each channel representing a unique succession of lotteries through which a child was assigned to a school. Results show that school fixed effects are strong determinants of student performance. These fixed effects are shown to be highly correlated with teacher qualifications measured in particular by their official ranks. Teacher qualifications have about the same predictive power for student test scores as do school fixed effects.
    Journal of Human Resources 01/2011; 46(1).
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    ABSTRACT: Food price volatility over the last four years has hurt millions of people, undermining nutritional status and food security. The level of price volatility in commodity markets has also undermined the prospects of developing countries for economic growth and poverty reduction. After staying at historic lows for decades, food prices have become significantly higher and more volatile since 2007. A first price spike occurred across almost all commodities in 2007/2008. After a drop in 2009/10, prices are now climbing again and volatility remains high. Periods of high or low prices are not new. In fact, price variability is at the core of the very existence of markets. Since 2007, however, the degree of price volatility and the number of countries affected have been very high. This is why food price volatility in the context of higher food prices has generated considerable anxiety and caused real problems in many countries. Global and national responses to this unprecedented food price trend have been remarkable. There have been numerous governmental and intergovernmental initiatives to protect vulnerable populations from the negative consequences of higher food prices. In October 2010, the recently reformed Committee on Food Security (CFS) asked the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to prepare a report on price volatility that covers ―all of its causes and consequences, including market distorting practices and links to financial markets, and appropriate and coherent policies, actions, tools and institutions to manage the risks linked to excessive price volatility in agriculture. This should include prevention and mitigation for vulnerable producers and consumers, particularly the poor, women, and children, that are appropriate to different levels (local, national, regional and international) and are based on a review of existing studies. The study should consider how vulnerable nations and populations can ensure access to food when volatility causes market disruptions”.
    01/2011; Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes how electoral incentives affected the performance of a major decentralized conditional cash transfer program intended on reducing school dropout rates among children of poor households in Brazil. We show that while this federal program successfully reduced school dropout by 8 percentage points, the program's impact was 36 percent larger in municipalities governed by mayors who faced reelection possibilities compared to those with lame-duck mayors. First term mayors with good program performance were much more likely to get re-elected. These mayors adopted program implementation practices that were not only more transparent but also associated with better program outcomes.
    Review of Economics and Statistics 12/2010; · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    Alain de Janvry
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    ABSTRACT: The role of agriculture as an instrument for industrialization had been rigorously conceptualized in the 1960s and 1970s under the classical paradigm of development economics. After many implementation failures under import substitution industrialization policies and protracted neglect of agriculture under the policies of the Washington Consensus that followed the debt crisis, agriculture has gradually returned in the development agenda, especially with the food crisis. We argue in this article that a new paradigm has started to emerge as to how to use agriculture for development, pursuing a broadened development agenda. We explore the specifications of this paradigm and discuss conditions for successful implementation. Copyright (c) 2010 International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    Agricultural Economics 11/2010; 41(s1):17-36. · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We conducted a randomized experiment at the time of the 2004 flu vaccine shortage, providing information about the sharply reduced number of clinics and their schedule, and an appeal on cooperative restraint to a campus population. This strategy was intended to reduce demand for vaccination among non-priority individuals and to free available supplies for the priority population. It failed to achieve its purpose. Information induced a net increase in vaccines distributed and, perversely, the net increase originated entirely in non-priority individuals. The surprising finding is that calls on cooperative restraint induced an uncalled for positive response among priority individuals, while they induced an increase in cheating among non-priority individuals. Age as a qualifying factor was in particular widely abused, with the number of “65 years old” more than twice the predicted value, while about half of the predicted 61–64 years old were missing.
    Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 11/2010; · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We utilize a unique pair of experiments to isolate the ways in which reductions in asymmetric information alter credit market outcomes. A Guatemalan microfinance lender gradually started using a credit bureau across its branches without letting borrowers know about it. One year later, we ran a large randomized credit information course that described the existence and workings of the bureau to the clients of this lender. This pairing of natural and randomized experiments allows us to separately identify how new information enters on the supply and the demand sides of the market. Our results indicate that the credit bureau generated large efficiency gains for the lender, and that these gains were augmented when borrowers understood the rules of the game. The credit bureau rewarded good borrowers but penalized weaker ones, increasing economic differentiation.
    Journal of Development Economics 11/2010; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    Karen Macours, Alain de Janvry, Elisabeth Sadoulet
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    ABSTRACT: This paper shows that insecurity of property rights over agricultural land can have large efficiency and equity costs because of the way it affects matching in the tenancy market. A principal-agent framework is used to model the landlord's decision to rent when he takes into account the risk of losing the land to the tenant and when contract enforcement is decreasing in social distance with the tenant. These effects are quantified for the case of local land rental markets in the Dominican Republic. Results show that insecure property rights lead to matching in the tenancy market along socio-economic lines, severely limiting the size of the rental market and the choice of tenants for landlords, both with efficiency costs. Social segmentation reduces access to land for the rural poor, with high equity costs. Simulations suggest that improving tenure security would increase rental transactions by 21% and the area rented to the poor by 63%. Increased property rights security is hence beneficial not only to asset owners, but also to those with whom they might interact in the market.
    European Economic Review 10/2010; · 1.53 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
108.03 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1980–2014
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
      Berkeley, California, United States
  • 2010
    • Ecole d'économie de Paris
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
    • Johns Hopkins University
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2008
    • International Food Policy Research Institute
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
  • 2006–2008
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • Department of Economics
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2007
    • University of Montana
      Missoula, Montana, United States
  • 2002
    • University of New England (USA)
      Biddeford, Maine, United States
  • 1993
    • Cornell University
      Ithaca, New York, United States
  • 1983
    • University of Geneva
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland