A Talk With Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse

Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse (IFRPI, Ethiopia) at NYU Africa House


My good friend and colleague gave a great talk the other day. It was on aspirations. His basic argument is that there is something called “aspirations” that people have in their heads. Their work effort depends upon the level of these aspirations. The aspirations can be changed by providing information. His work involves showing Ethiopian farmers TV programs – some positive, some placebo. Those with the positive images had higher levels of aspirations. His paper/slides can be found here.

I think that this work is great. I prefer interpreting the work as one involving models of learning. You learn what is possible by getting information (including TV programs). If you are a villager you may learn, for example, that it is actually not impossible for a villager to get a loan from a bank – this will help you aspire to better things.

I am doing work with Alemayehu on our Ethiopia Coffee Commodities Markets project. Great guy – more information about his work can be found here. He has also sent over some of his more philosophical writing – focus on the “people perspective”. Click here for his essay – Enjoy!

Y. Nyarko