Sylvan Herskowitz, a PhD student in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley, has won the 2015 Luther G. Tweeten Student Scholarship for the research proposal: The Causes and Consequences of Sports Betting in Uganda. The proposal, which was jointly submitted by Co-PIs Herskowitz, Bruno Yawe (Makerere University), and Jeremy Magruder (UC Berkeley), was a recipient of the 2015 EASST Research Grant Competition.
The study explores whether high levels of betting participation are driven by behavioral factors or financial constraints. The study will include 320 market workers and motorcycle drivers in Kampala who regularly participate in sports betting. Participants will be interviewed about their bi-weekly betting, earning, and consumption behavior over a period of two months. Small wallets will be provided to randomly selected participants as a mechanism to increase mental accounting barriers between money allocated to betting and other expenditures. Randomized primes will also be used to assess whether demand for lumpy goods drives betting participation. The primary outcomes of interest will be the response of betting demand to these treatments as well as impacts on other expenditures and investments.
When asked by the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) what prompted him to pursue this research topic, Herskowitz writes:
"I first became interested in sports betting while working in Monrovia, Liberia. It was impossible to walk more than a block without seeing groups of young men discussing and debating different European football matches and placing bets with international betting companies. It was immediately clear that both the pervasiveness and intensity of sports betting throughout Liberia were huge. Sports betting occupies a large portion of these men’s weekly expenditures and I was interested to develop a better understanding of the underlying reasons for such heavy participation as well as the impact betting has on their lives. There is a very similar form of sports betting in Uganda (as well as many other countries throughout the world). Following the outbreak of Ebola and before its resolution was known, I decided to explore the possibility of conducting a study on sports betting in Kampala, Uganda."
Find out more by reading the original announcement on the AAEA website, found here, or by visiting the EASST Evidence page here. If you are interested in receiving funding to evaluate an innovative intervention in health, education, economic development, energy, or other relevant sector, the 2016 EASST Research Grant Competition is accepting grant applications from pairs of researchers from the CEGA faculty network and East Africa through April 13th, 2016.