AAEA Honors Michael Carter and Christopher Barrett with Publication of Enduring Quality Award

Barrett and Carter AAEA
Christopher Barrett (left) and Michael Carter (center) with former AAEA president David Zilberman (right)

MRR Innovation Lab director Michael Carter and Cornell economist Christopher Barrett were honored by their peers for their foundational paper on the economics of poverty traps in developing countries.

The Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) awarded Carter and Barrett the Publication of Enduring Quality Award at its 2019 Annual Meeting on July 22, 2019. The Paper, “The Economics of Poverty Traps and Persistent Poverty: An Asset-Based Approach" was published in the Journal of Development Studies” in 2006 and established a new way of thinking about how rural families in developing economies move into and out of poverty. 

"I'm honored that we received the award this year," said Carter. "It means that our peers believe this to be a paper that helped change the way we think about something important in the field and that it continues to be useful."

Prior to Carter and Barrett's paper, a conventional way to define poverty was by income and consumption. Both of these are useful as a measure of a family's well-being at any given moment but they do not provide answers about their likelihood of poverty in the future or causes.

Carter and Barrett's approach looked at the fundamentals of how families generate income with assets like land or livestock. Understanding how a family's income-generating assets change over time leads to a deeper understanding of poverty and new approaches to helping families to build a way out.

"To understand deep and persistent poverty you have to look at the structure of those asset flows," said Carter.

The AAEA Publication of Enduring Quality Award is given each year to a paper published by an AAEA member at least ten years ago. Nominated papers are judged on their enduring quality to the field of agricultural and applied economics.

Read the paper