Laura Paul is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Experimental and Applied Economics at the University of Delaware. Her research employs experimental and behavioral economics to investigate agricultural and environmental issues. Current projects study the design of policy to reduce non-point source pollution and include a randomized controlled trial on voluntary conservation programs. Her dissertation work identified hurdles to widespread adoption of drought tolerant maize in East Africa, despite its potential to increase household resilience. Paul received her Ph.D. in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis, and her M.A. in Economics from Duke University.

Laura Paul

email: lpaul@udel.edu


Working Papers

Recruitment of Farmers in the United States for Economic Field Experiments: What has CBEAR learned from running experiments with farmers? (with Collin Weigel, Paul Ferraro, and Kent Messer)

To develop evidence-based agricultural policies, researchers are increasingly using insights from economic field experiments. However, recruiting farmers for these experiments can be challenging. For example, low response rates and unrepresentative samples can limit the quality of the evidence generated by these experiments. To shed light on ways in which researchers can improve the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of farmer recruitment, we evaluate ten strategies used in two large-scale experiments with relatively high incentives. We find that monetary incentives and reminders are effective, but costly. Other strategies, such as public goods messaging, have little impact on response rates.

Conservation Cover Practice Defaults (with Steven Wallander, Rich Iovanna, Paul Ferarro, and Kent Messer)

Participation in Citizen Science for Coastal Water Data Collection: Measuring Persistence in Contributing to Public Goods (with Kent Messer)

Managed Retreat: Coastal Residential Property Buyout (with A.R. Siders, Leah Palm-Forster, and Kent Messer)

Spatial Attribution in Nonpoint Source Pollution: Experimental Evidence of the Value of Emissions Information for Producers and Regulators (with Jacob Fooks, Jordan Suter, and Kent Messer)

Less Rain, More Gain: Evaluating the On-Farm Yield Performance of Drought-Tolerant Maize in East Africa

Drought is a primary cause of crop failure, which has severe economic and welfare consequences for farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. Improved crop varieties, such as drought-tolerant (DT) maize, can provide substantial improvements in yield level and variance. This paper assesses the performance of DT maize in On-Farm trials to identify the advantage of the DT trait under different drought conditions. I find significant heterogeneity in returns from the DT maize seed technology. This is important because variation in realized advantages might moderate the estimated large benefit from the technology.

Experimental evidence on the impact of DT Maize and index insurance on small-holder maize farmers in Mozambique and Tanzania (with Steve Boucher, Michael Carter, Jon Einar Flatnes, Travis Lybbert, Jonathan Malacarne, and Paswel Marenya)

The Impact of Availability Bias in Drought Expectations on Adoption of Drought-Tolerant Maize

A farmer’s decision to adopt a new agricultural technology like DT is based on her subjective beliefs about the likelihood of drought and the crop response to drought stress. Farmers’ expectations of  drought likelihood depend on experience and cognitive biases. I develop a model of the adoption decision to show the role of information in expectations, giving insight into the limited uptake. I find that the comprehension of the DT maize characteristics is not the primary driver of adoption. I also find that a rosier expectation of the yield advantage or a more pessimistic expectation of future rainfall lead to higher adoption. However, between different comprehension frameworks there is negligible difference. When households are split by productivity, it is the lowest productivity households whose behavior is best predicted by expectations.


My teaching approach emphasizes the connections between my students, the content, and the real world. I illustrate material by using practical examples, and I pay particular attention to translating cutting-edge academic research to a level appropriate for the class.

Intermediate Microeconomics

In 2017, I was the instructor of record for Intermediate Microeconomics, an upper-level core course for the Managerial Economics major. (2017 SSII ARE 100B syllabus)
Laura Teaching Class Photo