Carly Trachtman

Greetings!

I am a 5th year PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

My main fields of interest are: Development Economics, Agricultural Economics, and Behavioral Economics.

 

I work on topics such as financial inclusion, technology adoption, and measurement issues.

My contact info:

Office: 13A University Hall

Email: ctrachtman <at> berkeley <dot> edu

(Insert the appropriate symbols to email me!)

My CV:

Research

Below are some of my current projects.

Targeting the Poor and Vulnerable: A Re-analysis of a Field Experiment in Indonesia

Community wealth ranking methods, in which communities identify the poorest households to receive a targeted transfer, are of interest in the targeting literature, as they leverage community information about households’ welfare that may be difficult or costly for researchers to observe. In an experiment in Indonesia, Alatas et al. (2012) compare the rankings from a traditional proxy means test (PMT), in which easily observable assets are used to predict consumption levels, and community rankings in identifying households with the lowest per capita total consumption. They find PMT rankings better predict consumption, and conclude that the community appears to target transfers based on an alternate conception of poverty. However, it is not obvious that total consumption is the appropriate measure of welfare for comparing these methods, as utility changes will only correspond directly with changes in total consumption if utility is both homothetic and additively separable, which the data seems to reject. We claim that an index of the marginal utility of expenditure (IMUE) may better capture changes in households’ welfare from receiving transfers. Using methods from Ligon (2019) and data from Alatas et al. (2012), we test if there is evidence that communities target transfers based on an IMUE rather than only total consumption, and consider other factors which affect community rankings. Preliminary results show evidence that IMUE rankings help to explain community rankings even after controlling for total consumption rankings and PMT rankings.



Understanding Community-Based Targeting: Information, Preferences, and Conceptualizing Welfare

Community-based targeting (CBT) methods are commonly used throughout the developing world to identify the poorest households, for the purpose of targeting anti-poverty programs. These methods rely on community members providing information about the relative rankings of other households in their community. Notably, welfare rankings of households produced by CBT methods often differ greatly from rankings based on other standard welfare metrics. While this may be because community members have a more contextually appropriate or utility-based notion of welfare, it also could be because community members have limited information on their neighbors, or because they have other preferences that enter into their CBT ranking decisions. Through a set of lab-in-the-field exercises with respondents in Central Java, Indonesia, I attempt to understand what welfare information households have about their neighbors, what households' preferences are regarding which neighbords receive program transfers, and how such information and preferences are reflected in CBT rankings. The results of this experiment could help policymakers to better understand CBT processes and if/when they should be used for targeting. 

Reduce, Reuse, Redeem: Deposit-Refund Recycling Programs in the Presence of Alternatives (with Peter Berck, Molly Sears, Rebecca Taylor, and Sofia Villas-Boas)

We estimate California residents' preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for current beverage container recycling methods, including curbside pick-up services, drop-off at government-subsidized recycling centers, and drop-off at non-subsidized centers. Using a representative online and telephone survey of California households, we estimate a discrete choice model that identifies: the California Redemption Value (CRV) refund amount (paid to consumers only if they recycle at drop-off centers), the volume of recyclable material generated by the household, and the effort associated with bringing recyclable materials to recycling centers, as key attributes explaining consumers' beverage container disposal decisions. Additionally, we use counterfactual policy analysis to show that increasing the CRV amount increases overall recycling rates, with the largest changes in consumer surplus accruing to inframarginal consumers, who are on the boundary between taking containers to recycling centers and recycling using curbside pick-up, namely white and higher income consumers. Conversely, we show that eliminating government-subsidized drop-off centers does not significantly alter consumer surplus for any major demographic group, and has little impact on recycling rates. 

Introducing quality certification in staple food markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: A review of evidence (with Gashaw Abate, Tanguy Bernard, Alain deJanvry, and Elisabeth Sadoulet)

Third party quality certification can be used reduce transaction frictions caused by asymmetric information in value chains. Such certification may help to secure the competitiveness of smallholder farmers in domestic markets for staple crops in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), in the face of rising competition with high quality imports. Yet, while frequent in high value export crops, quality certification is still rare for staple crops. To understand why this discrepancy persists, we develop a model with four sufficient conditions for the functionality of certification in a value chain—-willingness to pay for quality by downstream agents, upstream competition among traders with pass-through of quality price premiums to farmers, existence of cost-effective certification, and farmers' capacity to respond to certification by enhancing quality. We show that if these conditions hold, certification should theoretically lead to farmers: receiving higher prices for higher quality goods, increasing investment in quality-enhancing inputs, and experiencing welfare gains in response to this quality enhancement. To see if these conditions and results hold in practice, we consult the literature and a novel diagnostic survey of experts in 20 SSA countries. We find that while certification systems exist in most countries surveyed, evidence of downstream willingness to pay for quality and of price premiums paid to farmers for quality is mixed. However, in cases where quality price premiums do exist, we observe producers responding by enhancing quality. We conclude that policymakers can promote quality certification in staple chains by first ensuring the four conditions we identify hold.

Teaching

  • UC Berkeley: Recipient of Outstanding GSI Award and Teaching Effectiveness Award (Spring 2020)
  • UC Berkeley: EEP C118/IAS 118- Introductory Applied Econometrics (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2019)
  • UC Berkeley: Econ C171/EEP C151- Development Economics (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2018; Instructor of Record, Summer 2019)
    • Click here for some "Intro to R" notes from this class. (If CourseHero is going to charge for them without my consent, I will post them here for free!)
  • CEGA: EASST Mentorship- Spring 2019
  • Lafayette College: Math 141- Differential Calculus and Economic Modeling (Supplemental Instructor, Spring 2016)
  • Lafayette College: Econ 251- Intermediate Microeconomics (Supplemental Instructor, Spring 2014)


About Me

I am a 5th year PhD candidate interested in development, agriculture, and behavioral economics. While I often work with survey data that was already collected, I have spent some time in the field in India! I also am a current co-president of Economists for Equity at Berkeley.

 

I am originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania and completed my undergraduate education at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. After that I moved to Berkeley, CA where I currently reside.

 

When I am not working on research, you can find me teaching cardio dance online or making silly videos about economics.

 

 

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