A far-reaching economic policy that impacts countless lives can start with something as small as a grain of rice.
Linh Do ’18 is spending her summer working on a research project titled, “Vietnam’s Economy in Transition,” which aims to analyze the effects of the Renovation Policy on Vietnamese rice production. Her project, undertaken with economics professor Erol Balkan, is supported by a Levitt Center Summer Research grant.
Do attributes her interest in the economic development of her home country to Balkan’s course on the subject, which she took this past spring. “Even though I am a Vietnamese citizen,” she explained, “My understanding of the agricultural development in Vietnam is insufficient. Therefore, I decided to collaborate with Professor Balkan on this project to learn more about the transformation of the Vietnamese agriculture in general and rice production in particular during and after the Renovation Period.”
Likewise, she credits the importance of rice for both farmers and consumers in Vietnam as motivation to pursue this topic further. While the rice sector is critical to Vietnam’s economy, the country’s dramatic economic progress has led to development and emphasis of its non-agricultural sectors, much to the chagrin of the agricultural sector and particularly the rice sub-sector. This research, however, challenges that narrative. “It serves as a reminder to me and everyone about the role of the rice sector in our economy,” Do explained.
Specifically, Do’s main objectives this summer are threefold: “to discuss agricultural reforms that directly affected Vietnam’s rice production during and after the Renovation Period, to explain the impact of these reforms on rice production, yield and export trends in Vietnam from 1986 until now and finally to analyze the role of trade liberalization on rice exports.”
Do is extremely optimistic about the benefits of her work so far: “I believe that this research will help me and my peers expand our understanding of the impact of agricultural reforms on the Vietnamese rice production and farming households during and after economic transition.”
However, beyond these theoretical results lies the potential for practical action. She continued, “It will lay a foundation for developing policy to improve rice yields and lessen any negative effects of trade liberalization on farming households. I consider my current research a necessary step to developing agricultural economic policies that may bring positive impacts on rice farmers—one of the most vulnerable sectors in our economy.”