August 30, 2017. ASE welcomes new Princeton-in-Africa fellow Anna Bachan! Anna is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota but has spent the past four years living in New York, Paris and Senegal. Last May, she graduated from New York University with a B.A. in International Development, Politics, and Human Rights.

Anna accepted the fellowship at the African School of Economics for several reasons: “Primarily, I am passionate about expanding and being involved in the research arena for socioeconomic and political development on the continent. I also wanted to work with university students and have the chance to contribute to their academic and professional development. Additionally, I wished to spend more time in Francophone West Africa. My mission at ASE is to have an open mind and learn as much as I can about Benin and about research in development and the political economy.”

2017 09 01 Anna Bachan 2

Anna's first impressions after arriving in Benin and ASE are numerous and she is still getting used to many things. She has had a great time at ASE meeting all of the staff and students. So far, she has organized the new Thematic Reading Groups in addition to starting to work on several grant proposals and research projects. She has also joined ASE's Volleyball team (pictured above). Outside of ASE she says, “I have had the chance to experience Cotonou and travel to Ouidah, Grand Popo and Natitingou. I have tried some Beninese dishes (sauce de legumes and aloco are my favorites) and have even started learning to dance salsa”. In general, Anna is enjoying life at ASE and in Benin and “looks forward to what the next year will bring.”

African School of Economics (ASE) expertise is well recognized, especially for the management of its projects, like the "Impact Evaluation of the Promotion of Girls' Education in Benin". Find what J-PAL says about this on its website, following this link and also take a look on the spotlight on ASE founder, Prof. Léonard Wantchekon.

2017 08 28 ASE Maths project on J PAL website

2017 08 28 Prof. Léonard Wantchekon on J PAL website

Monday August 21- Tuesday August 22, 2017.  

At the brand new campus in Arconville, ASE students had the unique opportunity to attend a Political Economy seminar given by ASE’s President Léonard Wantchekon. The seminar took place for two days and covered a multitude of topics, including how game theory is used to capture the election process. Professor Wantchekon also explained “the median voter model”, the phenomenon of electoral competition under the threat of political unrest, and the congressional influence on bureaucracy, democracy, and clientelism in Africa. The interactive and discussion based seminar helped ASE students gain a better understanding of the Political Economy and its importance in subsequent development research on the continent. 

 

On Thursday, July 17th 2017, the African School of Economics had the honor to welcome Professor Yves Atchade from the University of Michigan, a PhD in statistics with expertise in computational statistics, invited by Prof. Léonard Wantchékon, who introduced him to the audience.

Professor Atchade demonstrated why statistics is not just about graphs and figures, but is relevant and applicable to a wide range of fields. Big data, machine learning, and neuronal network applications are some examples of how statistics is transforming the world. Research has even found that current day, data scientists, statisticians and machine learning experts are globally among the most remunerated professions.

Overall, the presentation and discussion gave ASE students the opportunity to learn about computational statistics, a new subject for many, and its application to a variety of disciplines. Furthermore, students were able to ask their most pressing questions and discuss computational statistics with a highly regarded expert in the field.

August 14, 2017. This week’s Political Economy and Governance Thematic Research Group met to discuss the paper, “Can Informed Public Deliberation Overcome Clientelism? Experimental Evidence from Benin” by Thomas Fujiwara and Leonard Wantchekon. It was a pleasure to welcome Professor Wantchekon himself to lead the discussion and answer questions.

In the paper, authors studied the effect of nonclientelist practices such as public deliberation on presidential campaigns. The experiment involved the cooperation of actual candidates in the 2006 presidential election in Benin. Subsequently, these candidates adopted Fujiwara’s and Wantchekon’s strategies for the election. They adopted the “treatment” or alternative campaign strategy in randomly selected villages, while pursuing the standard clientelist strategy (in form of rallies, cash and gifts) in control villages.

Results of the experiment found that “treatment” reduced the prevalence of clientelism and did not affect voter turnout. They also found that “treatment” was more effective in villages where the candidate did not have a political stronghold and vice versa. After presenting the paper, ASE students took the floor by asking questions about the implications of this experiment in the broader context of the political environment in Benin and generally, in Africa.