Theme 1: Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Remittances
Project: Using Eye Tracking to Study Migrant Remittances and Its Welfare Implications (field work in progress)

Migrant remittances are a significant driver of global development. But sending remittances remains costly. The creation of publicly available online or mobile comparison databases containing information on the cost, speed and reliability of sending remittances is one of the most efficient means to increase transparency and reduce transaction costs. This in turn requires such databases to be simple, accessible and user-friendly. In this project, we partner with a company that has built and maintains a World Bank-certified metasearch platform for online money transfers, to test behavioral foundations of comparison shopping.

The novelty of the project is the use of eye tracking to unpack “the black box” of experimentally-elicited and naturally-occurring migrant remittance decisions. In so doing, the study sheds light on the behavioral foundations of search, choice and information; how neuroeconomics data can be used to improve site customization and online or mobile comparison shopping; and on the resulting welfare effects that could accrue to migrants and recipients. From a broader standpoint, the study also provides evidence for how refined neuroeconomics data can be used to craft development policy.

Region: Central America
Funding: NSF Award No. 1649921

Theme 2: The Impact of Infrastructure in Rural Areas
Project: Impact Evaluation of Rural Electrification and Roads

This project evaluates the impact of rural electrification and rural roads in El Salvador. It takes advantage of the new infrastructure that resulted from the Millennium Challenge Corporation Project in El Salvador. The goal is to reduce rural poverty by increasing regional economic growth through a five-year program of strategic investments and technical assistance in various sectors. One of the main interventions is the construction of a new electrical grid in the Northern Zone and the construction of the Northern Transnational Highway (NTH), a vital transport artery throughout the region, as well as into neighboring Honduras and Guatemala. The NTH aims to increase the Northern Zone’s access to markets and the larger regional and national economy.

  • Torero, Maximo, 2015. “The Impact of Rural Electrification: Challenges and Ways Forward,” Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 23(HS), pages 49-75.

(Above research funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation)

(Above research funded by The World Bank Group)

  • “Overcoming Infrastructure Challenges to Africa’s Rural Development,” Seminar, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, April 8, 2009.
Country: El Salvador
Funding: The Millennium Challenge Corporation, World Bank

Theme 3: How Technology Can Reduce Hunger
Project: ICT to Improve Global Food Security

This project reviews the state of ICT and their impact on agricultural development in developing countries, documenting rapid changes that have taken place over the last decade. Although there is still a wide gap in access between rural and urban areas, the spread of mobile phones in rural areas has led to important changes in the agricultural sector. We find that access to mobile phones has generally improved agricultural market performance at the macro level; impacts at the micro level are mixed. There is also still limited evidence regarding the impact of market information systems delivered through mobile phones on farm prices. Similarly, the rollout of extension programs through ICT is still at an early stage and more research is required to demonstrate impact.

  • Nakasone, Eduardo & Torero, Maximo, 2016. “A text message away: ICTs as a tool to improve food security,” Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(S1), pages 49-59, November.
  • Nakason, Eduardo; Torero, Maximo Torero; and Minten, Bart, 2014. “The Power of Information: The ICT Revolution in Agricultural Development,” Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 533-550, October.
  • Book: Torero, Maximo & von Braun, Joachim, 2006. “Information and Communication Technologies for Development and Poverty Reduction: The Potential of Telecommunications” Johns Hopkins University Press. (Available on International Food Policy Research Institute for free download and Amazon.)
During the last session of the forum, Maximo Torero stresses the importance of information to improve food safety across value chain and to bridge the digital gap. It is only with information that people will change their behavior, he argues.
Moderating a panel during the first day of the forum, Maximo Torero emphasizes the linkages among food safety, trade and healthy diets to have evidence-based policies that could improve health and nutrition.
Region: Global
Funding: IADB, USAID