Katie Dickinson


Improved Cookstove Research in Northern Ghana

waterNearly 3 billion people cook over open flames on a daily basis. This behavior impacts local and regional air quality, global climate, and human health. Two hundred households in the Kassena-Nankana district of Northern Ghana were randomly selected to participate in a randomized field trial of two types of improved biomass-burning cookstoves. Social surveys have been deployed to measure cooking behaviors and willingness to pay for these technologies. Personal exposure to pollutants, in-home air quality measurements, and health outcomes will be monitored over two years to assess the stoves' impacts. Results will be used to generate coupled natural-human system models of the impacts of scaled-up stove use on social, health, and air quality outcomes. These projects are funded by the NSF (Coupled Natural and Human Systems) and the US EPA. Read more ...

Playing with Fire: Social Interactions and Homeowners’ Wildfire Mitigation Behaviors

waterHomeowners’ decisions in fire-prone areas play a crucial role in shaping wildfire occurrence and, especially, impacts. These decisions are interdependent: what one household does can affect the choices of neighbors and other social contacts. Conceptually, there are at least five pathways through which social interactions among homeowners in fire-prone areas can influence mitigation choices: information and learning; social amplification of risk perceptions; risk interdependency (or risk externalities); social norms; and social capital. Using survey data from Boulder and Larimer counties, we have shown that social interactions have multiple and varying relationships with risk perceptions, beliefs about mitigation options and wildfire risk mitigation behaviors (particularly actions to reduce vegetative fuels on one’s property). Read more ...

Prices, Peers, and Perceptions (P3): Improved Cookstove Research in Northern Ghana

P3Adoption of potentially welfare-improving technologies remains frustratingly low in many contexts. Improved cookstoves are a prime example: while cleaner-burning stove technologies have potential health, environmental, and social benefits, efforts to disseminate these technologies have fallen short and the practice of cooking with biomass over open fires remains dominant throughout much of the developing world. The central aim of this proposal is to study how economic incentives ("prices"), social learning ("peers"), and subjective beliefs ("perceptions") interact to influence technology adoption dynamics. We do so through field experiments in Northern Ghana that offer new stoves at different price levels to groups of households with and without social ties to households that have already received stoves as part of the ongoing REACCTING study in this region. Results will inform future efforts to disseminate clean cookstoves and other welfare-enhancing technologies beyond the study area.

Social and Economic Aspects of Vector-borne Disease

waterVector-borne diseases impose wide-ranging costs on human societies. Human behaviors and decision-making at various scales influence the transmission and impacts of these diseases. As part of Katie’s dissertation research, she examined determinants of malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment behaviors in Tanzania. Specifically, she examined how these behaviors varied with socioeconomic status, and also looked at knowledge and behaviors around environmental management for malaria control. A related project has worked with malaria control policymakers in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, building decision support tools to assess different control strategies. Katie has also used economic stated preference methods to measure willingness to pay for mosquito control. Read more ...