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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

James K. Boyce

Second Advisor

Michael Ash

Third Advisor

Anita Milman

Subject Categories

Political Economy


Chapter 1 investigates the inverse relationship between farm size and agricultural yield. While there are a large number of studies internationally, there have been few conducted in African countries. Using household-level data from a national survey we explore the relationship between farm size and yield in Ethiopia's post land reform scenario. We find a robust inverse relationship between farm size and yield, and a positive association between yield and land fragmentation. These findings raise important questions for current agricultural development strategies that favor larger farms and less fragmentation in Africa

Chapter 2 investigates the uptake of top-down flood mitigation policies in Vermont. Despite consensus on the need to adapt to climate change, who should adapt and how remain open questions. While local-level actions are essential, state and federal governments can play a substantial role in adaptation. In this chapter we investigate local response to state-level flood mitigation policies in Vermont as a means of analyzing what leads top-down adaptations to be effective in mobilizing local action. Drawing on interviews with town officials, we delineate local-level perspectives on Vermont’s top-down policies and use those perspectives to develop a conceptual framework that presents the ‘fit’ between top-down policies and the local-level context as comprised of three components: Receptivity, Ease of Participation, and Design. We explain how these components and their interactions influence local-level action. This analysis points to how careful consideration of the components of ‘fit’ may lead to greater local-level uptake of top-down adaptation policies.

Chapter 3 investigates farmer’s livelihoods within Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In the United States there is a tremendous amount of interest in CSA among farmers, consumers, activists, and policymakers. Despite the attention garnered by CSA farms and the resurgence of local agriculture, relatively few studies have examined the livelihood opportunities for farmers within local agriculture. This chapter takes a step in this direction, evaluating livelihoods for CSA farmers through in-depth interviews conducted in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Based on the principles early advocates set forth as goals of the CSA movement; the chapter evaluates how CSA farmers are doing from the farmers’ perspective. The chapter finds that while CSA farmers are faring better than other farms across the United States and in the study region in terms of earned farm income, they still earn far less than the median national income of all households. Community Supported Agriculture also provides broader social, ecological, and economic benefits to farming communities as a whole, with its focus on providing food for the community rather than producing mass commodities for the market. These non-market benefits are a significant source of well-being from the CSA farmers’ perspective.