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Over the summer, David Stifel, assistant professor of economics and business, worked on two consulting projects for the World Bank.

The first involved providing technical support to the national statistical office in Madagascar to design a nationally representative multipurpose household survey. He traveled to the capital, Antananarivo, in early June to work with colleagues for several weeks on questionnaire design and field testing, sampling issues, and overall survey organization.

Aside from measuring standards of living, the three-month survey of 5,000 households is intended to help economists and policymakers better understand how risk affects poor households. Stifel designed and tested a risk module for the survey in response to Malagasy policymakers’ desire for information to design policies to help poor communities and households mitigate the effects of such shocks as cyclones before they occur (e.g. strengthening roads before a storm) rather than rely on more expensive post-risk coping mechanisms (e.g. rebuilding washed-out roads).

The second project is an on-going analysis of poverty in Kenya. In the absence of survey data on household incomes since 1997, policymakers have been developing national poverty-reduction strategy with outdated information. Stifel was asked to employ techniques developed in his dissertation as well as new poverty mapping techniques to impute current poverty levels and characteristics using recent health survey data. He will present his findings to the Kenyan government in Nairobi during spring break.

Previously, Stifel conducted EXCEL Scholars research with Shreedhar Sasikumar ’05(Kerada, India), a double major in international affairs and economics & business, to investigate the possible link between isolation and poverty in Madagascar.

Stifel advised Rhodes Scholarship state finalist Hart Feuer ’05 (Portland, Ore.), a double major in economics & business and German, in his honors thesis analyzing the social capital, market interaction, and income-generation capability of two semi-rural Cambodian villages.

He also mentored economics and business major Victoria Picone ’05 (Bethlehem, Pa.) in a study of the relationship between obesity in children and the education of their mothers.

During the January interim session, he co-led a trip to Asia for the course Thailand and Myanmar: The Challenges of Development.

Before joining the Lafayette faculty, Stifel was research associate in the Food and Nutrition Policy program at Cornell University and taught several courses there. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Cornell, an M.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and a B.A. in Asian Studies from Colgate University.

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