Associate Professor Jin brings his expertise in development economics to new role as Associate Editor for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Reflecting on his time as a young agronomy student at Zhejiang University in China, Songqing Jin, Associate Professor in Michigan State University’s department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE), can’t help but laugh. At that time, Jin says, “I never would have imagined myself studying a social science like economics. I thought natural sciences like agronomy were the only ‘real sciences’.” Now, not only is Jin a leading expert on development economics, he has recently been named an associate editor for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE), arguably the discipline’s premiere academic publication.
Jin developed a passion for social sciences while working as an agronomist for the Department of Agricultural Economics in the China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI). At that time, the department was chaired by the renowned agricultural economist Dr. Jikun Huang, someone Jin credits as one of his earliest mentors.
While working at the CNRRI, Jin was tasked with assisting a visiting Ph.D. student from Stanford University named David Widawsky, now the Director of the Chemistry, Economics and Sustainable Strategies Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Widawsky was studying the economics of genetically pest-resistant plant varieties in China. For months, Jin and Widawsky traveled around the countryside interviewing farmers, extensionists, and officials from plant protection bureaus, collecting data, and analyzing the findings. Jin says, “it didn’t take long for me to realize that economics was not only a real science but that it could be used to shape agricultural policy and ultimately improve lives.”
Having grown up in a family producing and selling vegetables and seedlings for their livelihood, Jin has long had an interest in helping rural communities, not just in China but around the world. Jin has now traveled and conducted extensive research throughout Asia and Africa.
Inspired by his time working on the pest-resistance project, Jin got a master’s degree from Rutgers University in agricultural economics and then matriculated at U.C. Davis for his doctorate where he wrote his thesis on agricultural technology under the guidance of Professors Scott Rozelle and Julian Alston. As a Ph.D. student at U.C. Davis, Jin was hired by the World Bank to do fieldwork in China on rural land tenure. Jin’s fieldwork on land policy issues built the foundation for his career as a leading scholar on technological transformation and development economics.
Jin has authored nearly 50 journal articles, more than 10 book chapters, and numerous working papers for the World Bank, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). While most of his research has focused on rural land tenure issues, Jin is always looking at how systems are connected. Jin sees his research as interdisciplinary; he is currently studying issues related to migration, gender, governance, educational outcomes, and rural e-commerce. In addition to his prolific scholarship and impacts, Jin has advised over 40 graduate students and 10 visiting scholars.
Jin was selected for the associate editor position by AJAE’s editorial staff. In Jin’s invitation to join the journal, the editors wrote that Jin was “selected from a list of highly regarded economists” and they said that his “selection reflects a great respect not only from the Editors, but also from the many colleagues with whom the Editors have consulted both formally and informally throughout our fields.”
Jin credits his subject area expertise, his strong history of publishing, including in the AJAE, and his professional service as a frequent reviewer as contributing factors in the editorial board’s decision. Jin says, “I am very honored to be selected. This is the flagship journal in the profession of agricultural economics and this a great opportunity for me to provide more service to the profession.”
Reflecting on Jin’s appointment to the journal, Professor and Chair of AFRE, Titus Awokuse, said, “I congratulate Songqing Jin on this important achievement. This is a recognition of his excellence in scholarship and professional service. I am confident that Songqing will be a tremendous asset to our field’s premier journal as associate editor.”
As an associate editor, Jin will serve a four-year term and will be tasked with many responsibilities, including desk reviews, mediating disagreements between reviewers, and collaboratively identifying and awarding the journal’s strongest articles. Jin is now the sixth current AFRE faculty member, joining Scott Swinton, John Hoehn, Rich Horan, Bob Myers, and David Hennessy, to serve as either an editor or associate editor for the AJAE.