UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University

Social Learning and Communication

Date and Location

Monday, May 12, 2014, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Conference Room, 2102 Social Sciences and Humanities

Abstract

Low adoption of agricultural technologies holds large productivity consequences for developing countries. Agricultural extension services counter information failures by deploying external agents to communicate with farmers. However, social networks are recognized as the most credible source of information about new technologies. We incorporate social learning in extension policy using a large-scale field experiment in which we communicate to farmers using different members of social networks. We show that communicator effort is susceptible to small performance incentives, and the social identity of the communicator influences learning and adoption. Farmers find communicators who face agricultural conditions and constraints most comparable to themselves to be the most persuasive. Incorporating communication dynamics can take the influential social learning literature in a more policy-relevant direction.

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