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Is There Surplus Labor in Rural India?

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  • Mark R. Rosenzweig

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • Andrew D. Foster

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Brown University)

Abstract

We show empirically using panel data at the plot and farm level and based on a model incorporating supervision costs, risk, credit-market imperfections and scale-economies associated with mechanization that small-scale farming is inefficient in India. Larger farms are more profitable per acre, more mechanized, less constrained in input use after bad shocks, and employ less per-acre labor than small farms. Based on our structural estimates of the effects of farm size on labor use and the distribution of Indian landholdings, we estimate that over 20% of the Indian agricultural labor force is surplus if minimum farm scale is 20 acres.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 991.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:991

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Keywords: agriculture; India; scale; profits; labor; tractors;

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References

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  1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Binswanger, Hans P., 1992. "Wealth, weather risk, and the composition and profitability of agricultural investments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1055, The World Bank.
  2. Benjamin, Dwayne, 1995. "Can unobserved land quality explain the inverse productivity relationship?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 51-84, February.
  3. Bhalla, Surjit S & Roy, Prannoy L, 1988. "Mis-specification in Farm Productivity Analysis: The Role of Land Quality," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 55-73, March.
  4. Christopher B. Barrett & Marc F. Bellemare & Janet Y. Hou, 2010. "Reconsidering Conventional Explanations of the Inverse Productivity-Size Relationship," Working Papers 10-22, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  5. Amartya K. Sen, 1966. "Peasants and Dualism with or without Surplus Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 425.
  6. Peter Lanjouw & Rinku Murgai, 2009. "Poverty decline, agricultural wages, and nonfarm employment in rural India: 1983-2004," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(2), pages 243-263, 03.
  7. Carter, Michael R, 1984. "Identification of the Inverse Relationship between Farm Size and Productivity: An Empirical Analysis of Peasant Agricultural Production," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 131-45, March.
  8. Feder, Gershon, 1985. "The relation between farm size and farm productivity : The role of family labor, supervision and credit constraints," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 297-313, August.
  9. Juliano J. Assun��o & Luis H. B. Braido, 2007. "Testing Household-Specific Explanations for the Inverse Productivity Relationship," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), pages 980-990.
  10. Allen, Robert C., 1988. "The growth of labor productivity in early modern English agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 117-146, April.
  11. Lamb, Russell L., 2003. "Inverse productivity: land quality, labor markets, and measurement error," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 71-95, June.
  12. de Janvry, Alain & Fafchamps, Marcel & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1991. "Peasant Household Behaviour with Missing Markets: Some Paradoxes Explained," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(409), pages 1400-417, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Deininger, Klaus & Nizalov, Denys & Singh, Sudhir K, 2013. "Are mega-farms the future of global agriculture ? exploring the farm size-productivity relationship," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6544, The World Bank.
  2. Ana María Ibañez Londoño & Juan Carlos Muñoz Mora & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Abandoning Coffee under the Threat of Violence and the Presence of Illicit Crops. Evidence from Colombia," HiCN Working Papers 150, Households in Conflict Network.
  3. Ali, Daniel Ayalew & Deininger, Klaus, 2014. "Is there a farm-size productivity relationship in African agriculture ? evidence from Rwanda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6770, The World Bank.
  4. Klaus Deininger & Denys Nizalov & Sudhir K Singh, 2013. "Are mega-farms the future of global agriculture? Exploring the farm size-productivity relationship for large commercial farms in Ukraine," Discussion Papers 49, Kyiv School of Economics.
  5. Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2014. "Wage growth, landholding, and mechanization in agriculture : evidence from Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6789, The World Bank.

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