Underappreciated economists, a continuing series

Vivian Hoffman, currently a Ph.d. candidate at Cornell.  When I read this description of her research I think that modern economics is very much on the right track:

I study the economics of anti-poverty and health interventions using household survey and experimental economics methods.  Most of my work to date has been in East Africa.  For my dissertation research on demand for and intra-household allocation of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, I conducted fieldwork in southwestern Uganda. Ongoing projects include a study on the impact of food aid receipt on labor supply and agricultural production in Malawi, estimateing the returns to farm assets in rural Ethiopia, and an experimental investigation into the effect of stigma on HIV testing behavior.  I hope to continue working at the intersection of health and development economics.  My interests also include health and poverty-related issues in Canada and the United States.

Here is the abstract on her main paper:

This paper reports results from a field experiment in Uganda. Whether a mosquito net was purchased or received for free affected who within the household used the net. Free nets were more likely to be allocated to those members of the household most vulnerable to malaria, whereas purchased nets tended to be used by the household’s main income earners. The effect was strongest for free nets received by the mother, increasing the probability that all children five and younger slept under nets by 26 percent relative to when nets had been purchased by either parent or given to the father.

In other words, within the household the breadwinners have a greater practical ability to control priced goods than non-priced goods.  This hints at one reason why men are often more willing to "think like economists" within the family.

You might think that Vivian has not yet done enough to be judged, but surely she has done enough to be judged as underappreciated.  So go appreciate her and remove that label from her name!


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