Valuable Learnings at Marseilles Conference

Sara Tonini at the LAGV

In its 16th year, the Journee Louis-Andre Gerard-Varet (LAGV), has become the most important yearly conference in public economics in Europe.

Over two days, the conference covers a wide range of topics in economics, from taxation to equity, education and development, with a total of 32 parallel sessions.

At the 2018 LAGV, SALDRU’s Sara Tonini presented a joint paper with Peng Zhang, a PODER Fellow at SALDRU in 2016/17, on ethnic diversity and labour market dynamics in South Africa.

Tonini reports that it was really valuable to receive comments from experienced economists attending the session towards the improvement of her co-authored paper as well as to discuss it in depth over the coffee breaks. What made the conference an interesting platform to present at, was the varied perspectives from researchers in different fields.

In the same session, two other papers in development economics were presented – a paper on education and women’s wellbeing in Western Africa, and a paper on political competition and randomised controlled trials in developing countries.

There were also three Keynote Lectures by prominent scholars, on development, social mobility and microeconomic theory. Tonini was impressed by the project presented by Edward Miguel from University of California, Berkley on the impact of rural electrification in Kenya. His talk discussed the emerging research literature on the expansion in access to the electricity grid in a low-income region, including results from a new policy experiment in Kenya. His work provides evidence on demand for electricity connections among rural households, economies of scale in grid expansion, and impacts on household living standard. Tonini found it particularly interesting given the massive recent interest among developing country governments and foreign aid donors in guaranteeing access to electricity in rural areas.

Tonini’s participation at this conference was made possible with the support of the UCT Postdoctoral Conference Travel Grant.