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Quasi-experimental methods in agricultural, food and environmental policy analysis

On July 15th 2015 Giovanni Anania suddenly passed away. Giovanni was a pillar in the profession and a natural academic leader for young agricultural and international economics scholars. He also was an institutional leader, serving as president of the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE), and at the University of Calabria, where he served as Head of the Department of Economics as well as a member of the University Executive Board.
To honor Giovanni, the Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), the Rossi-Doria Center and the University of Calabria have organized a Summer School for PhD candidates and young researchers, a constant focus in Giovanni’s mentoring role.

The need to quantitatively identify the effects of a policy is nowadays indisputable, as it allows the measurement of its real effects and a comparison with the expected ones. Furthermore, the policy evaluation exercise gives essential and irreplaceable evidence for future policies in the same area.
The policy’s causal effect is defined as the difference between the outcome of the units affected by the policy (the actual situation) and the outcome that these same units would experience had the policy not been implemented. The fundamental evaluation problem is that we cannot observe simultaneously the same unit in the two scenarios, i.e. the scenario in which the policy is not implemented – the counterfactual – is an elusive one to produce or simulate. Quasi experimental methods aim at identifying an adequate control group and, as a consequence, the counterfactual outcome and the policy effect.
The 2nd Giovanni Anania Summer School on Evidence-based policy making provides an introduction to quasi-experimental methods in policy analysis and introduces students to their use in agricultural, food and environmental policy analysis.

The overall objective of the Summer School is to train young applied economists in the field of policy formulation and evaluation. The approach is based on a close interaction between participants and top senior economists.
The Summer School is organized as a series of lectures on the state of the art of specific policy topics coupled with up-to-date empirical sessions focusing on the replication of relevant research published in the best field journals.
Both young scholars and lecturers will be hosted and live together at the University of Calabria, in an informal environment, facilitating the sharing of experiences and expertise.

Day 1 morning
• Opening lecture “Evaluating policies with observational data: motivations, methods and issues” Roberto Esposti (Università Politecnica delle Marche)
• Roundtable The relevance of evidence-based policy making in agricultural, food and environmental policies Thomas Heckelei (University of Bonn), Bruno Henry de Frahan (Université catholique de Louvain), Yves Surry (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)
Day 1 afternoon (computer room):
An introduction to quasi-experimental methods for policy evaluation: (i) The counterfactual statistical setting; (ii) Regression Adjustment with Stata applications Giovanni Cerulli (CNR)

Day 2 morning: An introduction to: (i) Covariates and Propensity-score Matching; and (ii) cross-sectional and longitudinal Difference-in differences. Applications using Stata Giovanni Cerulli (CNR)
Day 2 afternoon (computer room): Replication of the article The Impact of Agri-environmental Schemes on Farm Performance in five EU Member States: a DID-Matching Approach”. Land Economics, 92(1): 167-186 - Linda Arata and Paolo Sckokai (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore).

Day 3 morning: Introduction to Regression Discontinuity Designs Vincenzo Scoppa (University of Calabria)
Day 3 afternoon (computer room): Replication of the article Assessing the impacts of Cohesion Policy on EU regions: A non-parametric analysis on interventions promoting research and innovation and transport accessibility (Antonella Rita Ferrara, Philip McCann, Guido Pellegrini, Dirk Stelder, Flavia Terribile, Papers in Regional Science, Volume 96 Issue 4, November 2017, Pages 817–841, – Antonella Rita Ferrara (European Commission Joint Research Centre)

Day 4 morning: Introduction to Generalized Propensity Score (GPS) based methods
for multivalued and continuous treatments Fabrizia Mealli (University of Florence)
Day 4 afternoon (computer room): Replication of the article Agricultural (Dis)Incentives and Food Security: Is there a Link? (Emiliano Magrini, Pierluigi Montalbano, Silvia Nenci and Luca salvatici, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2016 Volume 99, Issue 4, 1 July 2017, Pages 847–871, – Luca Salvatici (Roma Tre University) and Pierluigi Montalbano (Sapienza Università di Roma)

Day 5 morning: Exam and Final lecture Perspectives in the use of quasi-experimental methods: the challenge of new data – Fabrizia Mealli (University of Florence)

The Summer School welcomes applications by PhD students at any stage of their PhD as well as young researchers who have completed their PhD. Applicants are welcome from any areas of applied economics, with a preference for those specializing in agricultural, food, environmental, trade, and development economics. Given the highly interactive activities planned at the School, the number of participants is limited to 30. Admission priority will be given to students of the University of Calabria, of the University Roma Tre and of the AFEPA Consortium (
Please submit your curriculum vitae, and a letter of reference. Applications must be submitted in English using the attached form by 20th April 2018 to the following email address:
Proposals will be reviewed by the Summer School Scientific Committee.
Notification of acceptance will be provided to applicants by April 30th. The selected applicants are required to pay a registration fee (125 euros) by May 15th. After this deadline, the selected applicant who has not completed the registration will not be entitled to participate and the opportunity will be given to the next person in the selection ranking.
Students are expected to arrive on 15 July (afternoon/evening) and depart on 20 July 2018 (late afternoon).
Certificates are provided to participants attending the entire school with information on course coverage.

The Second Giovanni Anania Summer School will be held at the University of Calabria, Department of Economics, Statistics and Finance – Rende (Cosenza),, from 16th to 20th July 2016.
The registration fee will entitle the participants to full board and accommodation for the whole duration of the Summer School. Registrants are responsible for their own transportation to Rende. Further information will be available at

Rosanna Nisticò, University of Calabria
Donato Romano, University of Florence
Paolo Sckokai, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Luca Salvatici, Roma Tre University