The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2011 | Agricultural And Health Input Subsidies In Development: Inter-Sectoral Lessons From Theory And Practice
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Agricultural And Health Input Subsidies In Development: Inter-Sectoral Lessons From Theory  And Practice

Supervisor:           Professor Andrew Dorward (SOAS)

Co-Supervisor      Dr Catherine Goodman (LSHTM)

There is a long history of government subsidies for health and agriculture inputs in low income countries, such as bed nets, vaccinations, fertilisers and seeds. The two sectors share a broad conceptual justification for subsidies, common challenges in delivering subsidies, a similar ideological history of changes in subsidy thinking and practice, and major innovations in recent subsidy policy and practice. There are also key differences between the sectors in the problems they address, in the characteristics of subsidy recipients, and in the extent and nature of subsidy programmes over the last 50 years. There has, however, been little theoretical and empirical research that attempts to compare the contributions and challenges of subsidies in the health and agriculture sectors. This research project will draw on cross-sectoral comparisons in rigorous theoretical and empirical economic analysis to contribute to thinking in this area.


  • To extend theoretical and empirical understanding of the potential and challenges of input subsidy programmes in the agricultural and health sectors
  • To identify ways to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of input subsidy programmes in these sectors    

Advances in theoretical and applied understanding of input subsidies’ potential, pitfalls and practice - integrated across and separately within the health and agriculture sectors, promoting improved design, implementation and evaluation of input subsidies in each sector.

Year 1 literature review of historical and current subsidy policies, programmes and theory within each sector, reviewing different types, justifications and objectives of subsidies; delivery mechanisms; achievements, costs and impacts;  and  strengths and weaknesses. This will lead to (a) at least one peer reviewed publication extending across both sectors the approach followed in Dorward’s review of agricultural input subsidies (Dorward, 2009) and (b) the identification of specific issues to be addressed in year 2 empirical case study work. Examples of the latter might include factors limiting transmission of subsidies to end users; inefficiencies associated with economic rents; challenges and opportunities (from new technologies) in targeting recipients and rationing; and links with social protection programmes. This work will concentrate on two case study programmes (one in agriculture and one in health) where extensive primary data are available on input subsidy implementation and impacts. Potential cases might include the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) and the Malawi Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme – where Goodman and Dorward respectively have on-going research activities. Empirical work will involve analysis of existing data to address specific issues identified in the initial literature review, together with field work gathering further information where required. Qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis will examine activities and impacts affecting different stakeholders.

Oct 2011- March 2012: Draft literature review, initial field work planning.
Apr - Sep 2012: Finalisation / submission of literature review; final field work planning, disseminate  findings from initial review.
Oct 2012 – Sept 2013: Field work and initial writing up and analysis of case studies.
Oct 2013 – Sept 2014: Full case study analysis and write up, integration with year 1 findings, drafting of papers, initial dissemination of final findings.

Dissemination of findings will be an important component of the work by the student and supervisors. Broad findings on theory, policy and practice of subsidies will be published in peer reviewed journals, with further dissemination through briefing papers, conference papers, workshops and direct engagement with international and national programmes and policy makers, with whom Dorward and Goodman have strong connections. The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health will also provide opportunities for disseminating findings within international debates. 

Applicants should normally possess a UK Masters degree (or a qualification deemed equivalent by the School) in economics, development economics, or a related discipline.  A strong interest in development and in development policy analysis and willingness to spend a significant period undertaking field work in a low income country or countries is also a pre-requisite.  Specific training will be given where needed in qualitative and social analysis, in agricultural and institutional economics, and in health economics and epidemiology. The researcher will undertake a PhD for a term of 3 years, with fees at the Home/EU level plus a maintenance stipend covered by the Bloomsbury Colleges. Applicants paying fees at the Overseas rate will be required to meet the additional cost of overseas fees.

Key References

  1. Dorward, A. (2009) Rethinking agricultural input subsidy programmes in developing countries. p 311-374 in  A. Elbehri and A. Sarris (eds) . Non-distorting farm support to enhance global food production. Rome, FAO
  2. Mills A, Brugha R, Hanson K, McPake B: What can be done about the private health sector in low-income countries? Bulletin of the WHO 2002, 80(4):325-330.
  3. Morris, M., V. A. Kelly, R. Kopicki and D. Byerlee (2007). Fertilizer use in African agriculture. Washington D.C., World Bank.
  4. Sabot O, Mwita A, Cohen J, Gordon M, Bishop D, Odhiambo M, Ipuge Y, Ward L, Goodman C. (2009) The impact of subsidized distribution of artemisinin-based combination therapies through private drug shops on consumer uptake and retail price in rural Tanzania. PLoS ONE 4(9).

Futher details about the project may be obtained from:

Supervisor:          Andrew Dorward (

Co-Supervisor:    Catherine Goodman (  

Further information about PhDs at SOAS and the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP) is available from:

PhDs at SOAS

CeDEP - This studentship is run by the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDED). CeDEP is based within the Department of Finance and Management Studies.

How to Apply

Applicants must complete the attached Bloomsbury College PhD Studentship application form.

The completed Studentship application form should be returned to:

Miss Alicia Sales
Scholarships Officer,
Thornhaugh Street
London WC1H 0XG

For any queries regarding the the Studentship application form, please e-mail:

Applicants must also make an application for Mphil/Phd at SOAS:

IMPORTANT: As the Studentship is run by the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDED), which is based within the Department Department of Financial & Management Studies (DeFiMS), applicants must choose FINANCIAL AND MANAGEMENT STUDIES RESEARCH as the programme of study for their application for Mphil/PhD

The application for Mphil/PhD should be returned as soon as possible but no later than the Studentship's closing date as Studentship applicants must be accepted for the Mphil/PhD.

When applying, please indicate where you found out about this studentship (please state the publication title/ web address).

Closing date for applications:  This studentship is now closed.