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Kenneth Leonard, Agriculture and Resource Economics

Investigating the link between age, motherhood status, and culture in preferences to perform in competitive environments: An empirical investigation from rural Malawi
When Mar 13, 2017
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 1101 Morrill Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Presentation

In order to better understand why competitiveness varies systematically across genders and, for women, across age, status and culture, we investigate competitiveness in Kenna sample of females and males between the ages of 12 and 90 in two different cultures in rural Malawi. The unique nature of the data allow us to examine why women’s willingness to compete varies with age and how this interacts with culture. We show that women in patrilocal cultures change their willingness to compete at important motherhood status markers in their lives: adolescence, having a surviving child (older than six), and menopause. These changes in willingness to compete are not present in matrilocal societies where women’s willingness to compete is higher and does not vary with age. The data show that although the biological imperative of having surviving offspring has important consequences for women, competitiveness is conditioned by cultural attitudes towards childbearing and childrearing.

About the Speaker

Kenneth Leonard

Kenneth Leonard is an applied development economist with expertise in Africa and a focus on human capital services in the rural economies of developing countries. His research deals primarily with the delivery of health care in Africa, particularly the role of institutions in mitigating the adverse consequences of asymmetric information. This has led him to research in peer effects and social networks as well as the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the provision of public services - particularly services characterized as credence goods. Credence goods are a special type of asymmetric information in which qualified professionals (teachers and doctors, for example) simultaneously decide what services the consumer needs and then supply them.

He usually collects his own data, choosing field sites and research teams and designing his own surveys and experiments. In 1995 he spent a year in Africa doing research for his dissertation with funding from the NSF. He conducted a household survey in Cameroon, interviewed traditional healers in Cameroon, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and joined Italian and Tanzanian doctors in Tanzania, visiting health facilities and collecting data on the patients who visit these facilities. The analysis of these data helped him secure further funding from the NSF and the World Bank to collect more data on quality at health facilities and to conduct household surveys. He lived in Tanzania for a year from 2001 to 2002 and collected data through 2003. In 2005 and 2010 he returned to Tanzania to collect more data on health workers. In 2010 he spent time in Malawi implementing a study on competitiveness on another NSF funded project, using laboratory experiments specifically designed for the project. Most recently he spent his sabbatical leave in Tanzania, working with researches and policy makers in Dar es Salaam.


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