New publication in "Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics"

New publication: Khanal, R. A., Mishra K. A., Mayorga, J., and Hirsch, S. (2020):Choice of Contract Farming Strategies, Productivity, and Profits: Evidence from High-Value Crop Production

This study examines the impact of the choice of contract farming (CF) conditions on the productivity and profitability of ginger growers. Using farm-level data from Nepal and the selectivity-corrected multinomial endogenous switching regression (MESR) method, we found that ginger growers increased yields by 16%, 19%, and 15% by participating in CF with input conditions (IC), with output conditions (OC), and with input and output conditions (BC), respectively. Ginger growers also increased profits by participating in CF. Price difference in spot and contract markets, distance to market and transportation facilities, and farm location are important factors affecting participation in any form of CF.

Article on the Agricultural Policy Blog of ETH Zürich (Sep. 2020)

Please find here the latest blog post by Prof. Hirsch et al. on about Competitiveness and Profits in EU Grocery Retailing: A Comparison Between Leading Chains and Small Retailers (externer link)

New publication in "Agribusiness - An International Journal"

New publication: Hirsch, S., Lanter, D., and Finger, R. (2020): Profitability and profit persistence in EU food retailing: Differences between top competitors and fringe firms

We investigate the drivers and persistence of profits in EU food retailing by focusing on differences between “top competitors” and fringe food retailers using a sample of 12,786 firms from France, Spain, and Sweden between 2006 and 2014. We detect a high degree of profit persistence in food retailing, presumably caused by strong bargaining power towards processors. Moreover, we find that profit persistence is higher for “top competitors” such as members of Top‐5 chains regarding sales and that independent/specialized supermarkets generate lower profitability. The results provide insights regarding power imbalances in food retailing and thus support the development of managerial strategies as well as measures to enhance market efficiency.

New Publication in "Economics Letters"

New publication: Hirsch, S. and Koppenberg, M. (2020): Power imbalances in French food retailing: Evidence from a production function approach to estimate market power

We analyze whether an association of firms to the dominant oligopoly of food retail groups is related to higher oligopoly market power. We apply a production function approach for the estimation of firm-level markups to a sample of 3,366 French food retailers over the period 2006-2014. The results suggest the presence of power imbalances between firms of the dominant oligopoly and fringe firms. We also detect a positive connection between markups and profitability pointing to a reduction in consumer welfare due to retailers’ oligopoly market power.

New Publication in "Agricultural Economics"

New publication: Möhring, N., Bozzola, M., Hirsch, S., and Finger, R., (2020): Are pesticides risk decreasing? The relevance of pesticide indicator choice in empirical analysis. Agricultural Economics (in press).

The reduction of adverse health and environmental effects from pesticide use is currently a top priority on the agricultural policy agenda. Efficient pesticide policies must take into account farmers’ application behavior, especially effects of pesticide use on economic risk. However, previous results regarding the direction of risk effects of pesticides are ambiguous. We show that the ambiguity in earlier studies could be due to the pesticide indicator selected. Indicators which fail to account for the heterogeneous properties of pesticides may be inapt for interpreting farmers’ pesticide use decisions. Our analysis, based on a rich panel dataset of Swiss wheat producers with highly detailed information on pesticide use, considers different pesticide indicators and multiple sources of uncertainty. Our key finding is that indicator choice affects the magnitude and sign of estimated risk effects. Estimates of pesticide productivity and risk effects are significantly higher for fungicides, and even reversed for herbicides when we measure pesticide use in simple quantity units (kilogram per hectare) ‐ compared to the quality and intensity corrected Load Index. This means for example, that farmers will ceteris paribus use lower quantities of herbicides, but will increase the overall toxicity of the products applied with increasing risk aversion. We discuss implications of our findings for the design of pesticide policies and agricultural risk management instruments.

New Publication in "Agricultural Economics"

New Publication: D’Souza, A., Mishra, A.K. and Hirsch, S. (2019): Enhancing Food Security through Diet Quality: The Role of Off-Farm Work in Rural India. Agricultural Economics (in press).

India has achieved food security at the macro‐level. However, at the micro‐level, the country still struggles with extensive problems of food nutrition insecurity. In this paper, we assess the impact of non‐farm income and non‐farm work status (casual and full‐time non‐farm work) of operator, spouses, and couples on the diet quality of smallholder households in India. We find that non‐farm income decreases the likelihood of farming household being in the poor‐diet quality group by 31% and the medium‐diet quality group by 3%. Full‐time non‐farm work by operators and spouses decreases the likelihood of farming households being in the poor‐diet quality group by 3% and 9%, respectively. Finally, national programs like public food distribution programs increase the probability of rural farming households in the poor‐diet quality group. Findings from this study underscore the importance of non‐farm income and full‐time non‐farm work in improving diet quality of rural Indian households.

New publication in "Land Use Policy"

New publication: Jian Zhang, Ashok K. Mishra, Stefan Hirsch, Xiaoshun Li. (2020): Factors affecting farmland rental in rural China: Evidence of capitalization of grain subsidy payments. Land Use Policy 90 (2020).

This study investigates the factors affecting farmland rental prices in China. Special emphasis is put on the
capitalization of China’s grain subsidy program into land rental rates. Using national representative farm-level data, Heckman sample selection model, and quantile regression (QR) approach, we find that a 10% increase in grain subsidy payments for contracted farmland increases the farmland rental price by about 1%. However, quantile regression results show that the capitalization rate is heterogeneous and varies across the distribution. Findings suggest that family labor input and farm location are important factors driving up farmland rental prices. Moreover, for farm size, rental experience, and natural disaster we detect a negative impact on land rental prices.

Download article here:

Article in the agricultural policy blog of ETH Zurich

Please find here the latest blog post by Prof. Hirsch et al. at about "Production flexibility as driver for the competitiveness of milk processors".

New publication in "PLoS ONE"

New publication: Printezis, I., Grebitus, C. and Hirsch, S. (2019): The price is right!? A meta-regression analysis on willingness to pay for local food. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0215847.


We study the literature on willingness to pay (WTP) for local food by applying meta-regression analysis to a set of 35 eligible research papers that provide 86 estimates on consumers’ WTP for the attribute “local.” An analysis of the distribution of WTP measures suggests the presence of publication selection bias that favors larger and statistically significant results. The analyzed literature provides evidence for statistically significant differences among consumers’ WTP for various types of product. Moreover, we find that the methodological approach (choice experiments vs. other approaches) and the analyzed country can have a significant influence on the generated WTP for local.

New Publication in "Journal of Agricultural Economics"

New publication: Iyer, P., Bozzola, M., Hirsch, S., Meraner, M., and Finger, R.  (2019): Measuring Farmer Risk Preferences in Europe: A Systematic Review. Journal of Agricultural Economics.


We present a systematic review of the extensive body of research on farmer risk preference measurement across Europe. We capture the methodological developments over time and discuss remaining challenges and potential areas for further research. Given the constantly evolving policy environment in Europe, and increasing climate‐change related risks and uncertainties, there is large value to be gained from enhancing our understanding of this fundamental aspect of farmers’ decision‐making processes and consequent actions.

New publication in "European Review of Agricultural Economics"

New publication: Hirsch, S., Mishra, A., Möhring, N. and Finger, R. (2019): Revisiting firm flexibility and efficiency: evidence from the EU dairy processing industry. European Review of Agricultural Economics.


We analyse the flexibility of EU dairy processors to adjust production to fluctuating economic conditions. For a set of 2,186 firms, we derive production flexibility measures representing the effect of output variations on costs. The results reveal that flexibility is highest in Poland and Italy and lowest in Spain. Several firm-specific factors, such as size and age of the firm, are found to affect firm flexibility. Moreover, we detect a tradeoff between flexibility and technical efficiency for large firms indicating that a sole focus on firm efficiency can be insufficient. Finally, the results show that during economic crisis flexibility can help to sustain profitability.

New Year reception at WZW, January 9, 2019

As part of the New Year reception at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstepah, Prof. Hirsch was introduced as a newly appointed professor.

Here you can find a corresponding article published in Süddeutsche Zeitung:

New publication in "Data in Brief"

New publication: Fernau, E. and Hirsch, S. (2019): Meta-analysis data for the literature on dividend smoothing. Data in Brief (in press).


The dataset presented in this data article was compiled from 100 published and unpublished empirical studies that employed Lintner׳s dividend payout model or related extensions over the period 1957–2016. Besides the reported degree of dividend smoothing and its estimation precision the data include a wide set of underlying study design characteristics such as the time period of analysis, the type of firms investigated or the econometric estimator employed. The data are related to the research article “What drives dividend smoothing? A meta-regression analysis of the Lintner model” .

New Publication in "International Review of Financial Analysis"

New publication: Fernau, E. and Hirsch, S. (2018): What drives dividend smoothing? A meta regression analysis of the Lintner model. International Review of Financial Analysis (in press).

We revisit the view of dividend smoothing as one of the most robust findings in the empirical corporate finance literature by employing meta-regression analysis (MRA). Using 99 empirical studies that employ Lintner's dividend payout model we investigate the heterogeneity in reported dividend smoothing effects. We find evidence for (i) a mediocre degree of dividend smoothing across the analyzed literature, (ii) bi-directional publication bias -i.e. a tendency to preferably report positive and statistically significant smoothing as well as dividend smoothing coefficients close to zero (i.e. high speed of adjustment coefficients), and (iii) several drivers for the heterogeneity in reported smoothing coefficients such as the set of control variables or estimation technique. Our MRA can provide guidance for investors' expectations and future research on dividend smoothing.

New publication in “Applied Economics”

New publication in “Applied Economics”: Hirsch, S., Tiboldo, G. Lopez, R.A. (2018): A tale of two Italian cities: brand-level milk demand and price competition, Applied Economics, DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2018.1486016.

click here to go to the publication.

We apply the BLP random coefficient logit model demand model to fluid milk sales data from two north-south Italian cities: Turin and Naples. By virtue of their location and socioeconomic differences, these cities provide a natural experiment for contrasting consumer choices and retail market power related to milk physical and marketing characteristics. Results reveal that, regardless of location, consumers negatively value price increases, fat content and ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment. However, location matters with respect to brand and type of milk purchased. While in Turin (the higher-income region) demand for the leading manufacturers’ brands is the most price inelastic, in Naples consumers have the lowest price elasticities in case of cheaper milk, often small manufacturer or private label brands. Unlike previous studies, we do not find price elasticities for private labels to be consistently lower (or markups to be higher) compared to manufacturer brands, indicating that private labels have reached maturity in these markets. Further, while demand for fresh milk is more price inelastic in Turin, it is more inelastic for UHT milk in Naples. Likewise, markups and Lerner indexes are higher for fresh milk in Turin and for UHT in Naples corresponding to the more inelastic demands under Bertrand price competition.

New Blog contribution regarding Risk determinants of German dairy farms

New Blog contribution regarding Risk determinants of German dairy farms.

Please click here to go to the article on

New publication in the “European Review of Agricultural Economics”

New publication in the “European Review of Agricultural Economics” Finger, R., Dalhaus, T., Allendorf, J. and Hirsch, S. “Determinants of downside risk exposure of dairy farms".


We investigate determinants of dairy producers’ risk exposure using a unique combination of foci on (i) downside risks, (ii) a holistic representation of revenues from milk and animal sales, (iii) climatic extremes and (iv) the role of animal health. A sample of German dairy farms reveals that animal health and heat stress indicators influence mean and semi-variance of revenues. For instance, heat stress exposure reduces expected milk revenues significantly. In the case of animal health-related indicators, our results show trade-offs between expected revenues and downside risks. Furthermore, variabilities in revenues from milk and animal sales are significantly interrelated.

Newly appointed Tenure Track Professor for Agricultural and Food Economics

On April 1st, 2018, Stefan Hirsch joined the Technical University of Munich School of Management as a W2 Tenure Track Professor for Agriculture and Food Economics located at the Campus Weihenstephan of the Technical University of Munich. 

The professorship aims to improve the understanding of competitiveness and strategic actions of firms in the agricultural and food sector