Professor Emeritus, Department of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Abbott joined the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Economics in July 1981. Prior to coming to Purdue he taught in the Economics Department at Northeastern University for five years. He received his PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, also from M.I.T., in 1972.
While his PhD dissertation examined food trade, coming to an agricultural economics department represented a major change in direction in Professor Abbott’s career, allowing him to pursue more applied research on the ground. Subsequently, his career focused on international agricultural trade and agricultural development. He worked extensively in Africa and Asia, examining how trade specific and broader domestic policies influenced trade and development outcomes both in the third world and for the U.S. His research has included extensive work on national trade policy for cereals in Morocco, cotton and cocoa in West Africa and Colombia, and trade and development in Vietnam. Each of these efforts was conducted in collaboration with national policymakers and stakeholders. Early and later work examined the role of stockpiling and stabilization policy in West Africa, Asia and Afghanistan. More globally oriented trade analysis has investigated volatile food prices in international markets and their effect on trade and stabilization policy responses by developing countries, with particular emphasis on the causes and consequences of the 2007-08 food crisis.
Dr. Abbott taught courses on mathematical programming, international trade, macroeconomics and agricultural development. He presented courses on campus, overseas and online, and was part of the distance learning based MSMBA program from its inception. His goal was to demonstrate economic analysis as a powerful tool to understand and evaluate current market events and to provide students the basic skills needed to use those tools.
During his tenure at Purdue Dr. Abbott spent three sabbatical years abroad, at the Institut Agronomique Mediterranéen de Montpellier, CIHEAM, Montpellier, France in 1988-89; at Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco in 1998; and at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2005-06. He also consulted for several domestic and foreign government agencies, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the OECD, the World Bank, commissions on food policy issues, and private agencies. He served on the steering committees of the congressionally-mandated USDA study on Export Embargoes and Surplus Disposal of Agricultural Commodities, the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium, regional research project NC-194, "Organization and Performance of World Food Systems," and CAST Task Forces on Value Added Exports and the Competiveness of U.S. Agriculture. He also served on several FAO Expert Consultations and the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Grains, Feeds and Oilseeds.
Professor Abbott served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and the Journal of Development Economics. He was awarded the Purdue University AES Agricultural Research Award in 1989 and the 2009 American Agricultural Economics Association Quality of Communication Award. He was named a Fellow of the African Association of Agricultural Economics in 2010. He is most proud, however, of the accomplishments of his graduate students, who went on to pursue distinguished careers and attain important positions not only in academia but also in governments and international organizations worldwide. Four of his students won national awards for the quality of their PhD dissertation or MS thesis, and numerous others won the Ag Econ department’s best thesis award.