Social Learning and Incentives for Experimentation and Communication

Low adoption of agricultural technologies holds large productivity consequences for developing countries. Many countries hire agricultural extension agents to communicate with farmers about new technologies, even though a large academic literature has established that information from social networks is a key determinant of product adoption. We incorporate social learning in extension policy using a large-scale field experiment in which we communicate to farmers using different members of social networks. We show that communicator own adoption and effort are susceptible to small performance incentives, and the social identity of the communicator influences others’ learning and adoption. Farmers appear most convinced by communicators who share a group identity with them, or who face comparable agricultural conditions. Exploring the incentives for injection points in social networks to experiment with and communicate about new technologies can take the influential social learning literature in a more policy-relevant direction.

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