We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer and assume some are stochastically present biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer ( free delivery) just after harvest. Calibration suggests that this policy can yield higher welfare than either laissez-faire policies or heavy subsidies.

Esther DufloMichael KremerJonathan Robinson
Publication type: 
Published Paper
American Economic Review
October 01, 2011
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