James Allen IV

About Me

Hello! I am an Associate Research Fellow in the Poverty, Gender, and Inclusion Unit at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with interests in improving health and education in low-income settings. I have a PhD in Economics & Public Policy from the University of Michigan (2023) and obtained an MS degree in Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics from Michigan State University (2012) while serving in the Peace Corps in Mali (2010-2012). 

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Find out more about my Research, Service, and Teaching.

Latest Research

My Job Market Paper is featured in the World Bank Development Impact blog!

Scheduling school during busy farming periods reduces grade advancement in sub-Saharan Africa, where children work on the family farm, but avoiding the farm calendar can improve school participation.

JOB MARKET PAPER - Double-Booked: Effects of Overlap between School and Farming Calendars on Education and Child Labor

Synopsis: Across sub-Saharan Africa, countries with a greater percentage of overlapping days in their school and farming calendars also have lower primary school survival rates, as greater overlap between these calendars presumably reduces the time available for both schooling and farm-based child labor. I causally identify such effects by leveraging a four-month shift to the school calendar in Malawi that differentially affected communities based on their pre-policy crop allotments. I find that a 10-day increase in school calendar overlap during peak farming periods decreases school advancement by 0.34 grades—one lost grade for every three children—and the share of children engaged in peak-period household farming by 11 percentage points, after four years. Policy simulations illustrate that adapting the school calendar to minimize overlap with peak farming periods should increase school participation by better accommodating farm labor demand.

PUBLISHED at Economics of Education Review - Teaching and Incentives: Substitutes or Complements?

Synopsis: Interventions to promote learning are often categorized into supply- and demand-side approaches. In a randomized experiment to promote learning about COVID-19 among Mozambican adults, we study the interaction between a supply and a demand intervention, respectively: teaching, and providing financial incentives to learners. Experts surveyed in advance predicted a high degree of substitutability between the two treatments. In contrast, we find substantially more complementarity than experts predicted. Combining teaching and incentive treatments raises COVID-19 knowledge test scores by 0.5 standard deviations. NBER WP link: nber.org/papers/w28976

PUBLISHED at Journal of Development Economics - Knowledge, Stigma, and HIV Testing: An Analysis of a Widespread HIV/AIDS Program

Synopsis: Using randomized methodologies, we study a common community HIV/AIDS program that seeks to promote HIV testing by improving knowledge and reducing stigmatizing attitudes. Contrary to expectations, the program has a substantial negative effect on HIV testing rates. We provide evidence of likely mechanisms behind the program’s negative effect: it inadvertently increased misinformation about HIV, and worsened HIV-related stigmatizing attitudes. NBER WP link: nber.org/papers/w28716

PRESENTATION: Watch my presentation of our study "Accelerating Changes in Norms about Social Distancing to Combat COVID‐19" at the  Johns Hopkins University / London School of Economics (JHU-LSE) virtual conference on Behavioral Economics Experiments & Insights on Covid-19. (Starts at 2:25:00 if link doesn't jump there)

We study two over-the-phone randomized interventions to promote social distancing: 1) a "social norm correction'', informing people that community support for social distancing is higher than they thought, and 2) a "leader endorsement'', broadcasting support for social distancing from prominent locals.