After making the donation, we went to Goree Island where there is a slave castle and the famous door of no return where Obama stood. The Island is really nice and the people are very friendly. Between making the donation and then spending the rest of the day on the Island it was a pretty great day.
As part of our research we asked people if they would like to donate their participation fee to a local orphanage. To our surprise many people said yes. We are going to use this as part of our analysis to see what factors influence the decision to donate the fee or not. What was most surprising to us is that when we randomly doubled and even tripled the participation fee across different neighborhoods the response rate of yes remained very high. This was incredible and to see the generosity of some very poor people was awesome. One woman who was very poor and was raising over 10 kids, some she had adopted, told us she is poor and knows what it is like to be poor so we should give the money to the orphanage. Another man not only donated his fee but gave us money out of his pocket. Humbling to say the least. In the end we raised over 200,000CFA about $350 and gave it to the orphanage after we finished our research. It was a private orphanage and was in a very poor part of Dakar, one of the poorest places I’ve seen, and was really a network of private houses that took in children. We went to many of the houses and went to a celebration they were having for the protection of albino children. It was a great day and the people were so happy with our donation. I told them it was a gift from the U.S. but really it was gift from their own people.
This summer I am doing research on attitudes towards poverty in Africa. We will be doing experimental surveys in Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Ghana to better understand how Africans view poverty and the poor living in poverty. Specifically, we are interested in if people view the poor as lazy or unlucky. This is a question that has been around in the U.S. for a long time and we know that people in the U.S. favor one or the other based on a lot of dimensions. Race, for example, influences how someone thinks of the poor and if there is a shared racial background then it is likely the poor will be viewed as lazy rather than unlucky. In an African context we are considering these questions looking at the specific factors like age, gender, level of education, and other factors that affect whether someone is viewed as lazy or unlucky as well as shared factors like ethnicity, gender, and others and how these correlate with views of poverty. We believe, for example, that women are more likely to view other women as unlucky but men as lazy all else equal. The same goes, we think, for shared ethnicity although we see competing arguments here such that people of the same ethnicity could be hard on each other. We finished collecting data in Senegal and we are now in Bassam in the Ivory Coast getting ready to start. I am working with a very talented group of young Senegalese and Ivorian college students. That is a lot of fun.
Went to Montreal for Spring Break. Great trip and got pounded with snow, so much that I had to dig my car out of snow. Went ice skating, skiing at Tremblant, and sledded. Good times.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.