Isaí Guízar-Mateos – AEDE Job Market Candidate

While completing his PhD in development economics at the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE), Isaí Guízar-Mateos has conducted research on the role of formal financial services in poverty alleviation, particularly in rural settings in the developing world. At AEDE, he is studying under Dr. Claudio Gonzalez-Vega, AEDE Professor Emeritus and previously Director of the world-renowned Rural Finance Program which was housed within the program, Dr. Mario Miranda, an authority in computational economics, and Dr. Abdoul Sam, a respected econometrician.

Guízar-Mateos became interested in the topic of financial markets and rural development as a participant in a selective USAID-funded exchange project with universities from his home country of Mexico, which focused on building human capital for microfinance institutions in order to reduce rural poverty. Building on this previous experience in the field, at AEDE Guízar-Mateos has been using dynamic choice models to explore how access to financial services may help poor farmers in overcoming poverty traps associated with constraints on the adoption of new production technologies. His theoretical modeling has been combined with advanced numerical techniques for model solution and simulations, as well as econometric applications using, in particular, a large panel data set on rural producers from Indonesia.

His research has identified significant differences in the effectiveness of financial services in overcoming poverty traps depending on: (a) the nature of the hurdles that constrain the adoption of superior production technologies (either subsistence hurdles or adoption hurdles, such as investment indivisibilities or unattractive risk-return combinations), (b) differential degrees of access to various types of financial services (either loans, deposit facilities for savings accumulation, or crop insurance), and (c) the extent of the frictions that create a wedge between loan and deposit interest rates and that reflect different stages in the development of financial markets. In particular, subsistence hurdles must be overcome first, otherwise, farmers will not be able to repay loans or accumulate sufficient savings to emerge from poverty and targeted adoption programs will fail. In his research Guízar-Mateos aims to help policymakers to develop policies that improve the design of financial services and increase their outreach to the rural poor.

Guízar-Mateos completed his undergraduate degree in agricultural economics at the Universidad Autonoma de Chapingo in Mexico and he earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the Colegio de Postgraduados, also in Mexico, as well as a second master’s degree in economics from Ohio State. While studying in Mexico, Guízar-Mateos conducted significant research on farm risk management. Throughout his academic career he has served as a researcher on a number of projects and as a teaching assistant in economic development courses.

Like many other students pursuing a PhD at AEDE, Guízar-Mateos credits the AEDE program with offering a valuable experience due to the diversity of cultures, backgrounds and research interests of the faculty and the students in the department. He notes that he has learned a great deal from his interaction with other students in the program – the opportunity to engage with them on many different levels is a positive externality of the AEDE PhD program. Additionally, he values the theoretical approach that he was taught during his master’s degree studies at the Department of Economics at Ohio State, as well as the applied training he has received at AEDE – a balance that he says has greatly prepared him as a researcher.

To learn more about Isai Guízar-Mateos, please see his job market profile.