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Title:Three essays in development economics: Private transfers, farmers' retirement, and learning failures
Author(s):Niu, Chiyu
Director of Research:Arends-Kuenning, Mary
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Arends-Kuenning, Mary
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Powers, Elizabeth; Baylis, Kathy; Winter-Nelson, Alex
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rural pension
Private transfers
Farmer's retirement
Information efficiency
Abstract:This dissertation evaluates the rural pension program in China and the agricultural extension program in Malawi. Farmers’ private transfer behavior, retirement behavior, and learning failures are discussed in the three chapters respectively. The first chapter studies the impact of a newly introduced rural pension program on the expenditure patterns of Chinese rural elders, with a special focus on the private transfer behaviors with their adult children. This is because we find that the pension program changes the rural elders' expenditure pattern only through its impact on transfers made to children, but not on consumption, saving or investment behaviors. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that the rural pension has a significant crowding out effect on the old-age support from the elders' children, induces large transfers to children, and also triggers rural-to-urban migration of the children. In addition, we use a within-sibling model to show that the children who live in urban areas with more education and income tend to receive more transfers from their rural parents. The findings suggest that the rural pension program tends to substitute for the traditional old-age support provided by children, and also induces investment behaviors by stimulating transfers to children while leaving no significant impact on rural elders' welfare in its early phase. The retirement behavior of farmers has received less attention compared to that of the urban laborers, because farmers usually do not have mandatory retirement ages or formal pension coverage, especially in the developing countries. The New Rural Pension Program (NRPP) in China provides an opportunity to study the heterogeneous retirement decisions of farmers, whose labor supply patterns can be depicted as "ceaseless toil'' but lack a model that summarizes the key determinants of their retirement. The second chapter proposes a retirement model that relates farmers' wealth, health assets and sick time to their retirement decisions. This model explains the puzzling empirical observation that wealthier farmers are less likely to retire after receiving the pension compared to the poorer farmers. The findings suggest that less wealthy farmers tend to drop off labor markets due to credit constraints and lack of investment in their health assets. Further pension policy reforms might prioritize health benefits and access to credit, in order to prevent the farmers from being trapped by poor health and credit constraints. There are multitude of approaches and modalities in delivering useful information to rural communities. However, there is limited evidence regarding the information efficiency of these modalities, and the mechanism through which the potential information loss operates in the agricultural extension system. In the third chapter, we assess information efficiency along the knowledge transmission chain from researchers to agricultural extension agents (EAs) to lead farmers (LFs) to other farmers. By asking the same set of questions about a fairly well known technology, pit planting, we construct a measure of knowledge at each node of the knowledge transmission chain. Evidence shows that the majority of information loss happens at the Researcher-EA link and EA-to-LF link, and that the loss is potentially caused by teaching failures or selective attention and learning of both EAs and LFs to all important details of the technology. Results highlight the need for greater emphasis during training and learning on key dimensions of technology packages that are commonly ignored.
Issue Date:2017-12-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Chiyu Niu
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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