Current Research

My interest in labor economics and experience teaching human resource management establish the foundation for my research exploring working conditions and reported labor shortages in the dairy industry. My work has progressed at the same time as new agricultural worker advocacy groups have spurred changes related to the industry’s labor practices. Thus, I have attempted to identify potential future trends and methods for improving dairy workers’ conditions via a comprehensive approach that includes multiple perspectives.

Job Market Paper: Milk Produced Under Certified Labor Conditions: Are U.S. Consumers Willing to Pay for It and Does Prior Information Impact Their Behavior?

For my job market paper, which I will be presenting at the AAEA Annual Conference , I use a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to evaluate consumers’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for milk marketed with a novel label certifying labor conditions. If improving dairy labor conditions requires additional costs and consumers are willing to pay a premium for milk produced under certified labor conditions then product labeling could be a method of offsetting costs for owners, which may be particularly enticing in a period of declining milk margins. Furthermore, it is feasible that such product differentiation could occur as labels multiplied following animal welfare reforms, and as labels clarifying other production methods, such as gene-editing, are becoming increasingly more common.

 

In a market where many labels exist there are two additional contextual factors that may influence generation and adoption of a new labeling program: information effects and interactions with other labels. This project explores how increasing implicit (label definitions) and explicit (news article) information changes consumers’ WTP for the novel labor label. It also compares the relative WTP for the novel labor label (preference for worker welfare) to other social desirability attributes, specifically organic (preference for health and/or environmental welfare) and pasture-raised labels (preference for animal welfare).

 

Other Working Papers

In another chapter of my dissertation, I explore attitudes toward worker welfare relative to other social issues in more detail by exploring voters’ preferences for potential policies. Using best-worst scaling I identify voters’ preferred policy that impacts the dairy labor market, for example a visa program like H-2A for which dairy qualifies or increasing the agricultural minimum wage.

 

I am also eliciting dairy workers’ preferences across types of compensation via a DCE. Identifying preferred compensation methods would suggest that owners who offer such benefits highlight them in job advertisements as they are enticing to workers. Identifying which methods are more valued also suggests where farmers are better off targeting their compensation plans to attract and retain workers. If compensation, specifically, is targeted as an area for improvement by worker advocacy groups or the workers within a firm, then identifying the most highly valued compensation method is critical in such efforts. It ensures that worker representatives are seeking changes that the majority prefer.

Future Research

I am interested in furthering the research begun for my dissertation, exploring labor conditions and policies in the dairy industry. I would like to incorporate the perspectives of owners, producers (of processed products), and others throughout the dairy supply chain. Additionally, I anticipate exploring similar questions in other previously under-researched labor groups, such as gig economy workers.

Furthermore, I am confident that I will continue my research into teaching and learning within agribusiness and economics classes. During my time as a Future Academic Scholar in Teaching (FAST) fellow I explored how quiz submission timing relates to performance on class assessments in a flipped course. While you can get a glimpse of this project on my Teaching page, I intend to formally communicate this work and future projects in the field of Teaching-as-Research (TAR) as a publication.

 Recent & Upcoming Presentations & Conferences 

August

05-08

2018

2018 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting

  • Attending, including "The Convergence of Policy Issues in Produce Research: Labor/mechanization, NAFTA, and the Food Safety Modernization Act" Post-Conference Session

  • Interviewing, registered with Job Center & Job Fair

  • Presenting the selected paper "Milk Produced Under Certified Labor Conditions: Are U.S. Consumers Willing to Pay for It and Does Prior Information Impact
    Their Behavior?" with V. Caputo as part of "Advances in Discrete Choice Experiments" Section in Virginia A on Aug. 7th from 4:45-6:15PM

January

04-06

2019

2019 American Economics Association (AEA) Annual Meeting

Attending and Interviewing

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