ZEF doctoral researcher Abdulrasheed Abdulkarim Isah granted fellowship at University of California in Berkeley, USA

July 21, 2021.  

ZEF doctoral researcher Abdulrasheed Abdulkarim Isah received a non-resident fellowship at the University of California in Berkeley, USA, for January – mid March 2022. The competitive fellowship is tenable at the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. CEGA is a hub for research on global development with affiliates from leading US universities. The CEGA Non-Resident Fellowship seeks to equip African social scientists with the skills needed to carry out rigorous evaluations of economic development programs. During the fellowship, Abdulrasheed Abdulkarim Isah will take graduate courses and seminars at Berkeley or other universities (e.g., UCLA and Stanford), develop skills in impact evaluation, and have access to a personalized mentorship to develop his research project.

Research on effects of farm subsidy programs on farmers’ aspirations in Nigeria

Abdulrasheed Isah will look into the research question “Does participating in farm subsidy program improve farmers’ aspirations and welfare during extreme weather events? Evidence from Nigeria”. In recent years, the role of future-oriented behavior of the poor is getting increased attention among development economists. Specifically, there is a growing recognition that aspirations, cognitive bandwidth and environmental stress have consequences for getting into poverty traps. However, the effects of extreme weather events on forming aspirations have received little empirical attention.

While the link between poverty and aspiration is well-documented, little is known about the effects of agricultural development programs on influencing aspirations of farmers in the aftermath of natural disasters due to climate change. As extreme events are projected to become more frequent in developing countries, understanding the role of participation in agricultural programs on behavioral outcomes would significantly contribute to knowledge and policy-making. Drawing on ideas from economics, psychology, and geography, my research aims to examine the effects of extreme weather events on aspirations, behavioral and welfare outcomes, as well as the mitigating role of a large-scale input subsidy program in Nigeria. Mr. Isah plans to employ rigorous quasi-experimental methods, lab-in-the-field-experiments, and geospatial techniques for carrying out his research.

Findings from this study will provide valuable insights for policymakers and development practitioners concerning development policies to boost the resilience of vulnerable agricultural households. In addition, this research will contribute to extant literature in the field of behavioral development economics.


After completion of the fellowship, Abdulrasheed will be become a member of the East Africa Social Science Translation Collaborative (EASST) network and be invited to join the Network of Impact Evaluation Researchers in Africa (NIERA). Through these networks, he will have further access to annual research grant competitions, online and in-person meetings, training workshops, and so on.


Abdulrasheed Abdulkarim Isah is a Development Economist by training who started conducting his doctoral research at ZEF’s interdisciplinary doctoral studies program BIGS-DR in 2020 on the topic of “Weather variability and market failures: Implications for risk management and welfare outcomes of agrarian households in Nigeria”.