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Quantifying the Economic Return to Participatory Extension Programmes in Ireland: an Endogenous Switching Regression Analysis


  • Doris Läpple,

  • Thia Hennessy,

  • Carol Newman

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    • Doris Läpple is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Economics, School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway. Thia Hennessy is a Principal Research Officer in the Agricultural Economics and Farm Surveys Departments, Rural Economy and Development Programme, Teagasc, Athenry, Ireland. E-mail: for correspondence. Carol Newman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin and a Research Associate of the Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The authors acknowledge two anonymous referees and the journal Editor for comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this article.


This article examines the effectiveness of a government funded extension programme. Farm-level data are used to assess the economic impact of dairy discussion groups, a common participatory extension method. The evaluation focuses on whether discussion group participants have improved farm profits, which is estimated with an endogenous switching regression model. This method controls for self-selection bias due to unobserved characteristics, such as the farmer’s ability, that may affect both participation and farm profitability. After controlling for this potential bias, we find that the economic returns to discussion group membership are positive, thus supporting government targets to enrol more farmers in discussion groups.