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Agricultural Productivity Differences across Countries

  • Douglas Gollin
  • David Lagakos
  • Michael E. Waugh

Recent studies argue that cross-country labor productivity differences are much larger in agriculture than in the aggregate. We reexamine the agricultural productivity data underlying this conclusion using new evidence from disaggregate sources. We find that for the world's staple grains—maize, rice, and wheat—cross-country differences in the quantity of grain produced per worker are enormous according to both micro- and macrosources. Our findings validate the idea that understanding agricultural productivity is at the heart of understanding world income inequality.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 104 (2014)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
Pages: 165-70

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:5:p:165-70
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.5.165
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  1. Diego Restuccia & Dennis Tao Yang & Xiaodong Zhu, 2003. "Agriculture and Aggregate Productivity: A Quantitative Cross-Country Analysis," Working Papers diegor-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Short, Sara D. & Livezey, Janet S., 2004. "Characteristics and Production Costs," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, April.
  3. Todd Schoellman & Berthold Herrendorf, 2012. "Why is Measured Productivity so Low in Agriculture?," 2012 Meeting Papers 75, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Foreman, Linda F., 2006. "Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, 2001," Economic Information Bulletin 7205, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  5. Jikun Huang & Fangbin Qiao & Linxiu Zhang & Scott Rozelle, 2000. "Farm Pesticide, Rice Production, and Human Health," EEPSEA Research Report rr2000051, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised May 2000.
  6. Burke, William J. & Hichaambwa, Munguzwe & Banda, Dingiswayo & Jayne, Thomas S., 2011. "The Cost of Maize Production by Smallholder Farmers in Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 148682, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  7. Gouse, Marnus & Piesse, Jenifer & Thirtle, Colin G., 2006. "Monsanto's Adventures in Zulu Land: Output and Labour Effects of GM Maize and Minimum Tillage," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25309, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
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