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UC Berkeley Job Market Paper Recognized for its Innovation and Policy Relevance by Inaugural CEGA Award

Agriculture Press Release

The prize was awarded to Nick Swanson for his dissertation on under-training in informal markets in Burundi.

BERKELEY, CA (13 May, 2024) – A new job market paper co-authored by Nick Swanson, PhD Student in Economics at UC Berkeley, was recognized during Commencement on Saturday by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) Doctoral Dissertation Prize in Development Economics for its outstanding research contributions.

Swanson’s job market paper — authored with Luisa Cefala (UC Berkeley), Pedro Naso (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), and Michel Ndayikeza (University of Clermont Auvergne and University of Burundi) — explores a surprising discovery: that new agricultural technologies may not always sufficiently diffuse to a community from a handful of initial trainees because of network constraints. Their findings indicate that worker productivity and output are impeded by differences in the private and social returns to training.

“Essentially, we found that employer farmers comprised one network and laborers comprised another, and the two were pretty distinct,” says Swanson. “Employers were much wealthier and didn’t typically socialize with workers, which complicated the diffusion of agriculture extension trainings.”

Recognized for its technical strength, creativity, and significant policy relevance, the paper was selected from a competitive field by a review committee of UC Berkeley professors who specialize in development economics, including Edward Miguel, Supreet Kaur, and Frederico Finan.

“One of the core aspects that set Nick’s paper apart was its innovative approach to understanding labor market constraints and how they affect social and economic development in low- and middle-income countries,” says Miguel. “The paper’s findings expand our understanding of how informal networks can function and offer novel evidence relevant to practitioners and policymakers.”

The prize builds on CEGA’s existing support for graduate student research, including the Development Economics Challenge, a program that competitively awards seed funding to original research projects led by UC Berkeley PhD students. Since 2011, CEGA has awarded more than $800,000 to graduate student projects in over 30 countries. Swanson was a previous recipient of a seed grant through the Challenge.

Formerly known as the Journal of Development Economics Prize, CEGA assumed management of the award in 2023 and increased the value of the cash prize. Past winners of the Prize include Max Lauletta (2023), Arlen Guarin (2022), Christian Brown (2021), Isabela Manelici (2020), Anne Karing (2019), and Michael Walker (2018).

To learn more about CEGA’s support for graduate student research, visit the CEGA website or contact Samarth Bordia at bordia [at] berkeley [dot] edu.


About CEGA

The Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) is a hub for research, training and innovation headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley. CEGA generates insights that leaders can use to improve policies, programs, and people’s lives. Its academic network includes more than 160 faculty, 65 scholars from low- and middle-income countries, and hundreds of graduate students — from diverse academic disciplines around the world — that produce rigorous evidence about what works to expand education, health, and economic opportunities for people living in poverty.

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