IPS – Monash Conference Highlights New Research on Economic Development in South Asia

07 – 08 January 2019
Avani Kalutara

The Conference on ‘Economic Development in South Asia’, co-organised by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) and the Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) and South Asia Research Network (SARN) of the Monash University, Australia, examined the development impact of innovative policy initiatives for spurring development in the region using latest research methods such as randomised field experiments, spatial distribution of consumption, and multidimensional poverty correlates and other micro econometric analysis.

The conference focused in the areas of poverty and inequality, entrepreneurship, agriculture, environment sustainability, labour and migration, education, macroeconomic growth, and financial markets.

The conference, held on 07 – 08 January 2019 in Kalutara, Sri Lanka, saw the participation of academics from countries in the South Asian region such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan as well IPS researchers. The aim of the conference was to share new knowledge from the region and seek collaborations for research.

Some innovative policy initiatives examined at the conference included the ‘integrated management of climate information for improving adaptation of agriculture practices’, ‘use of e-learning for improving mathematics achievements in Sri Lanka’, ‘adoption and diffusion of agricultural technology for improving productivity’, and ‘the effect of digital financing for improving small business access to finance’.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Ravinatha Aryasinha, was the chief guest of the conference.

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Session I: Poverty, Inequality, and Entrepreneurship

Traditional Hierarchies and Affirmative Action in a Globalizing World:  Evidence from India, Ashwini Deshpande (Delhi School of Economics)

Spatial Distribution and Correlates of Consumption and Multidimensional Poverty in Nepal: A Microeconometric Analysis, Apsara Knepal (ICIMOD, Nepal)

Micro-savings for Micro-entrepreneurs: Lessons From Field Experiments in Sri Lanka, Suresh de Mel (University of Peradeniya)

Digital Finance for Small Businesses and Urban Poor: Early Insights from the Catalyst Laboratory in Jaipur, Ajaykumar Tannirkulam (IFMR, India)


Session II: Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability

Floods and Agricultural Productivity: Experimental Evidence from Sri Lanka, Habibur Rahman (Monash University)

Mitigating Human-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka: Can Insurance Play a Role?, Kanchana Wickramasinghe  (IPS)

Know How vs. Social Norm: Experimental Evidence on Energy Conservation Information on Residential Electricity Consumption, Liang Choon Wang (Monash University)

Climate Information and Farmers:  Integrated Management of Information for Successful Adaptation, Athula Senaratne (IPS)


Session III: Migration, Technology Adoption and Labor Supply

Home Production, Social Norms and Women’s Labor Supply, Farzana Afridi (Indian Statistical Institute)

Is Emigration of Workers Contributing to Better Schooling Outcomes in Nepal? Gaurav Datt (Monash University)

Adoption and Diffusion of Agricultural Technology in Developing Countries: Lessons from Field Experiments Among Farmers in Bangladesh, Asad Islam (Monash University)

Transitions Between Informal and Formal Employment: Results from a Worker Survey in Bangladesh, Farzana Munshi (BRAC University)


Session IV: Education and Youth

After-School Tutoring in Developing Countries:  Evidence from a large scale RCTs, Ummul Ruthbah (Monash University and Dhaka University)

Can Khan Academy e-learning Video Tutorials Improve Mathematics Achievement in Sri Lanka?, Bilesha Weeraratne (IPS)

Self Confidence Spill-overs and Motivated Beliefs, Ritwik Banerjee (IIM Bangalore)

Sri Lanka’s NEETs: An Analysis of Youth not in Education, Employment, or Training, Ashani Abayasekara (IPS)


Session V: Financial Markets, Firms and Community

Impact of Stock Market Knowledge on the Trading Behaviour: Experimental Evidence from a Developing Country, Kazi Iqbal (BIDS)

Competitive Personalised Pricing, Chongwoo Choe (Monash University)

Group Decision-Making: Evidence from a Framed Field Experiment with Community Organizations in Pakistan, Hamna Ahmad (Lahore School of Economics)

Sri Lanka’s Transition to Upper-Middle Income Country Status: Challenges Ahead, Utsav Kumar (ADB – Sri Lanka)