Blogging with Bloem

Blogging may not on the top of most applied economists’ lists of priorities, if it even makes those lists at all.

Jeffrey Bloem

Blogging may not on the top of most applied economists’ lists of priorities, if it even makes those lists at all.

But graduate research assistant Jeffrey Bloem thinks more applied economists—particularly those doing policy relevant research—should consider it.

Bloem blogs at his personal Wordpress site: In addition to writing about his own research, he has posts about relevant links he likes, thoughts on economic and research concepts and book reviews. The blog entries offer a glimpse into Bloem’s work distilled into a light, readable format.

He sees that aspect of blogging as particularly important for applied economists.

“If the only outputs that we’re getting from these [projects] are these really dense journal articles that if we’re lucky, 50-100 people read,” Bloem says, “I just think it’s a big waste of time and effort and money.”

For Bloem, blogging is an important step in “popularizing” research and getting it “onto the desks of those who need to read it.” In fact, he has blogged about why he thinks more applied economists should blog. Twice.

Chief among the benefits of academic blogging, Bloem says, is more exposure. He added that if more applied economists can take lessons learned in their process and condense them to short blog posts, “there’s a better chance for those things to be applied.”

Bloem recognizes that blogging isn’t for every applied economist, but, he says, “It’s not a waste of time. In fact, it’s a time saver.”

One way blogging has saved time for Bloem is that it’s made him a better writer. He clearly articulates his points more quickly now that he’s always practicing writing.

“The way to get better at writing is to just keep writing,” Bloem says. Writing about academic work outside of the journal article format can be helpful.

When he’s not extolling the benefits of academic blogging, Bloem conducts research related to development economics. He’s done work in Ghana and Kenya and on the migration patterns of refugees resettled in the United States. Right now, he’s doing research in Myanmar, exploring the economics of hope.

“We want to understand how folks in rural areas perceive the future—how do they believe that future events will happen?” Bloem says.

The notion is that a positive or negative perception of the future will impact farmers’ decisions in the present.

“If the future looks gloomy, you may not want to think about it very much,” Bloem says. “But not thinking about the future will kind of prohibit your ability to make investments.”

His research is employing psychological survey instruments used to measure hope, self-efficacy and locus of control to help understand how farmers’ attitudes about the future are influencing their decision making. Ultimately, Bloem hopes those findings will help tailor agricultural extension programs in the future.


Marie Orttenburger

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