Challenges and resilience of borderland communities in Africa

Funding Institution: UNDP-  Africa Borderland Center (ABC)

Partner: University of Milano Bicocca

Start/End date: 2021 – 2022

LdA Researchers: Mariapia Mendola, Stefano Tarroni

Goals: The project’s aim is to shed light, through rigorous evidence, on the nature and magnitude of Strengths and vulnerabilities of borderland communities in Africa. Detailed consultancy to a recent UNDP report cats light on current challenges of rising forced displacement, intensified climate change, increased violence and conflicts among rural communities living in Africa’s borderland regions.

Innovation, Social Networks and Development

Partner: Université Paris-Sud, Paris School of Economics, University of Bern

Start/End date: 2019 – 2021

LdA Researchers: Mariapia Mendola, Margherita Comola, Carla Inguaggiato

Goals: In this project, we study the role of social learning in the diffusion of cash crops in a resettled village economy in Northeast of Brazil. We combine geo-localized data on farming plots with dyadic first-hand data on social ties among settlers, and we leverage natural exogenous variation in the network formation induced by the land occupation movement and agrarian reform. By using longitudinal data on farming decisions over 16 years we find consistent evidence of learning through network lines in the adoption decision of new cash fruits (soursop, pineapple and passion fruit). Our results point to the innovative element of Brazilian agrarian reform, which does not only provide access to land but especially the mobilization of people with different background from different parts of the country and the links among them.


UNU-WIDER, Seminar, December 2019

NEUDC Conference on Development Economics, Northwestern University, November 2019.

Multinational Corporations and Development in Africa

Partners: University of Bologna, University of Milano Bicocca.

Start/End date: 2020-2021

LdA Researchers: Mariapia Mendola, Giovanni Prarolo, Tommaso Sonno

Goal: In this project, we use fine grained data on the location and ownership structure of national- and foreign-owned plants existing in Sub-Saharan Africa in the period 2007-2018, together with DHS surveys, to shed light on the micro-development of individuals and families. We leverage on the exact location of plants and their decade-long dynamics and on the quasi-exact location (<5 Km precision) of surveyed individuals to assess several dimensions of socio-economic development induced by the availability of productive installments. The core analysis will be a micro-level investigation exploiting both the spatial and temporal dimension of plants location and families interviewed in the DHS survey. Thanks to the spatial dimension, i.e. the precise distances between families and plants, we can cleanly estimate localized spillovers, possibly heterogeneous across sector and nationality of owners, of the location of the latter on the former, for example on labor condition (self-employed vs employee) or on fertility and educational choices and on the spatial extent of such spillovers. The temporal dimension of the location of plants will be further exploited to study, for example, the within-family investment in educational patterns among children.

Knowledge Heterogeneity: Experimental Evidence on Information Barriers to Agricultural Technology Adoption in Uganda

Official website

Funding Institution: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Partner: IFAD (Rome), University of Makerere (Uganda), ILRI (Kenya), Oklahoma State University (US), Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of Uganda.

Start/End date: 2015 – 2020

LdA ResearchersMariapia Mendola, Jacopo Bonan, William Ekere, Federico Maggio, Harounan Kazianga, Alessio Romarri, Franklin Simtowe

GoalsThe project’s aim is to shed light, through rigorous evidence, on the nature and magnitude of the frictions that slow down agricultural technology adoption in low-income contexts. For this purpose, the project is evaluating the impact of a large-scale IFAD-supported agricultural development project by employing an experimental design, which encompasses the randomization of the extension services provision across rural geographical districts in Eastern and Northern Uganda.



3ie-IFAD Workshop: “Learning from 3ie’s Agricultural Innovation Evidence Programme“, 13th – 14th February 2020, IFAD, Rome

Final Policy Workshop, 27th March 2019, Kampala

Workshop on Development Economics: “Challenges and Opportunities for Policy Making and Growth in Africa” jointly organized by the Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano and the Department of Economics of the University of Milano Bicocca, 21st March 2019, University of Milano Bicocca

“Designing and implementing high-quality, policy-relevant impact evaluations: Learning from evaluating cash transfer and agricultural innovation programmes” organised by IFAD, 30th May – 1st June 2016, IFAD, Rome

Subjective Expectations, Labour Market Choices and Migration among University Students in Mozambique

Official website:

Funding InstitutionInternational Growth Centre (IGC)

Partner: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Eduardo MondlaneUniversity (Maputo)

Start/End date: September 2016 – March 2018

LdA Researchers: Mariapia Mendola (Principal Investigator), Luigi Minale (Co-PI), Ines Raimundo (Co-I, local partner), Alessio Romarri

GoalsThis project aims at investigating the role of subjective expectations about employment and earnings in influencing occupational and migration choices of university students in Mozambique. To do so, the project includes an original and detailed survey data collection in two major universities in Mozambique, namely the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) and the Universidade Politecnica, both in Maputo. The final objective of this research is to shed new light on the determinants of the skill-mismatch in the youth labour market in Mozambique (similarly to other African countries) and the decision of many high-skilled young people to migrate abroad.

Towards a Sustainable Migration: Interventions in the Countries of Origin

Funding Institution: Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Rome)

Partners: ICID-University of Tor Vergata (Rome), Coordinator

Start/End date: 2016-2017

LdA Researchers: Mariapia Mendola, Alessio Romarri

Goal: The Report, prepared by a team led by Furio C. Rosati (ICID), has been developed within the framework of the Migration Compact, the document of the Government of Italy that calls for systematic and scaled-up efforts in the management of international migration flows, in close partnership with countries of origin. The Report presents and discusses an array of policies that can be implemented in the countries of origin to help turn the challenge of migration into an opportunity for source and destination countries alike.


TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE MIGRATION. Interventions in countries of origin, by Furio C. Rosati, Mariapia Mendola, Anita Guelfi and Amedeo Parrella, The Italian Centre for International Development and Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, January 2017


MIGRATION AS A DRIVER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Cooperation policies and strategies between origin and destination countries, 13th March 2017, Palazzo Greppi – Sala Napoleonica, University of Milan

L’Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo: tra continuità e nuove strategie, 5th April 2016, Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”

Conferences and Seminars

  • Keynote speech on: “Refugee Crisis in Italy: Lessons and Policy Implications” at the International Workshop on Migration and Development, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, 26-27 November 2022;
  • Keynote Speech on: “Migration from Developing Countries: Selection, Income Elasticity, and Simpson’s Paradox” at the 11th International Conference in “Economics of Global Interactions: New Perspectives on Trade, Factor Mobility and Development”, 13-14th September 2021;
    Workshop on: “Firms, Labour Markets, and Development”, joint with the European University Institute, 6-7th July 2022, Fiesole (FI);
    Workshop on: “Hosting Refugees: National Policies and Local Communities”, joint with University of Milano Bicocca and Center for European Studies, 31st March, 2022;
  • XXI Summer School in International and Development Economics: “Conflict, Social Cohesion, and Development”, Dominic Rohener (Zurich University and CEPR) and Salma Mousa (Yale University), 5-8th September 2022, Gargonza, Italy;
  • The Young Development Economists Webinar Series (YoDEV), 2021;
  • 11th International Conference in “Economics of Global Interactions: New Perspectives on Trade, Factor Mobility and Development”, Keynote Speech on “Migration from Developing Countries: Selection, Income Elasticity, and Simpson’s Paradox”, 13-14 September 2021;
  • Twentieth Summer School in International and Development Economics: “Investment Choices in Developing Economies”, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak (Yale University and CEPR) and Cynthia Kinnan (Tufts University), 29th August – 1st September 2021, Gargonza, Italy;
  • Centre d’études et de recherches sur le développement international (CERDI) “The Economics of Migration” Webinar Seminar Series, presentation of “Migration from Developing Countries: Selection, Income Elasticity, and Simpson’s Paradox”, 21st October 2020;
  • Virtual NEUDC 2020, presentation of “Migration from Developing Countries: Selection, Income Elasticity, and Simpson’s Paradox”, 6th November 2020.
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