William Burke

William Burke

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Associate Professor
Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, Research, Capacity and Influence


Publications on Google Scholar

An associate professor in the department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Bill Burke is an agricultural economist with a focus on Africa that began when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, where he served from 2001 to 2003. Burke earned MSc and PhD degrees from Michigan State University (MSU) in 2009 and 2012 respectively. For three years (2010-12) he was on a long-term overseas assignment in Lusaka, Zambia, first as a Specialist and doctoral candidate, then Assistant Professor for the MSU Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE).

His work in Zambia focused on several aspects of the heavily subsidized maize and fertilizer sectors. In addition to carrying out fieldwork, his time in Zambia was spent providing research, outreach and capacity building services for the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI, né Food Security Research Project). In 2012 he moved to Northern California to join Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, where he was a Research Scholar and lecturer for 4 years.

In September of 2016 Burke incorporated Agricultural and Food Policy Consulting, providing services for several projects in Southern Africa. In early 2020 he was hired as a consultant for the MwAPATA Institute in Malawi, asked to fill the role of Acting Research Director during the search for a long-term candidate for that position. In 2022 he rejoined the faculty of AFRE as an Associate Professor and continues to work closely with colleagues at MwAPATA.

In December of 2017 Burke was elected to the Food Tank Board of Directors, and in 2020 became a member of the Editorial Board of The African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He has guest lectured at many universities in the US and throughout Africa, and has taught graduate courses on multivariate statistics and survey design at The University of Zambia and Stanford.

Research Interests and Topics

  • Poverty dynamics
  • Market participation
  • Land ownership
  • Fertilizer subsidies
  • Farm productivity
  • Sustainable intensification
  • Value chain analysis
  • Cost/benefit analysis
  • Nutrition
  • Structural transformation
  • The disparate distribution of productive assets between men and women.

Since working with IAPRI to collect a first-of-its-kind combination of soil sample analysis combined with a nationally representative farmer survey, he has been focusing on ways to study interactions between farmers and the characteristics of their soils.  This has allowed him to develop unique experience combining site-specific soil property measurements, remote sensing, and farm survey data to understand the adoption and impacts of farm management practices. He has also contributed to the broader literature on multivariate statistics, and is the author of the "craggit" package in Stata, which is used across a wide range of disciplines to estimate double-hurdle models.


2009 Best Thesis Award from MSU’s Agricultural Economics Department

The 2009 award for best article in Agricultural Economics, the flagship journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists

The 2013 Horizon Ribbon Award, from Washington College (his alma mater)

The 2017 Bruce Gardner Memorial Prize for Applied Policy Analysis awarded by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

In 2019 he was named an "Outstanding Reviewer" for The American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Twice, in 2017/18 and 2020/21, one of his papers has been amongst the “Top Cited” papers in Agricultural Economics.