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Ex post impacts of improved maize varieties on poverty in rural Ethiopia

Zeng, Di, Alwang, Jeffrey, Norton, George W., Shiferaw, Bekele, Jaleta, Moti, Yirga, Chilot
Agricultural economics 2015 v.46 no.4 pp. 515-526
Zea mays, agricultural research, corn, household income, land ownership, models, rural poverty, Ethiopia
Public agricultural research has been conducted in Africa for decades. While many studies have examined its aggregate impacts, few have investigated how it affects the poor. This paper helps fill this gap by applying a new procedure to explore the ex post impacts of improved maize varieties on poverty in rural Ethiopia. Plot‐level yield and cost changes due to adoption are first estimated using instrumental variable and marginal treatment effect techniques where possible heterogeneity is carefully accounted for. A backward derivation procedure is then developed to link treatment effect estimates with an economic surplus model to identify the counterfactual household income that would have existed without improved maize varieties. Poverty impacts are finally estimated by exploiting the differences between observed and counterfactual income distributions. Improved maize varieties have led to a 0.8–1.3 percentage drop of poverty headcount ratio and relative reductions of poverty depth and severity. However, poor producers benefit the least from adoption due to the smallness of their land holdings.