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The Role of Agriculture in Development

  • Douglas Gollin
  • Stephen Parente
  • Richard Rogerson

A longstanding question in economics is why some countries are so much richer than others. Today, for example, income per capita in the worldÂ’s richest countries is roughly thirty-five times greater than it is in the worldÂ’s poorest countries. Recent work (e.g., Robert E. Lucas 2001, and Rachel Ngai 1999) argues that the proximate cause of this disparity is that todayÂ’s poor countries began the process of industrialization much later and that this process is slow. In this paper we argue that a model of structural transformation provides a useful theory of both why industrialization occurs at different dates, and why it proceeds slowly. A key implication of this model is that growth in agricultural productivity is central to development, a message that also appears prominently in the traditional development literature. (See, e.g., Peter Timmer (1986)).

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

Volume (Year): 92 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 160-164

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:2:p:160-164
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282802320189177
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  1. Laitner, John, 2000. "Structural Change and Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 545-61, July.
  2. Stephen L. Parente & Richard Rogerson & Randall Wright, 2000. "Homework in Development Economics: Household Production and the Wealth of Nations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 680-687, August.
  3. L. Rachel Ngai, 2003. "Barriers and the Transition to Modern Growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp0561, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Kongsamut, P. & Rebelo, S. & Xie, D., 1997. "Beyong Balanced Growth," RCER Working Papers 438, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 1999. "Malthus to Solow," Staff Report 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1997. "The poverty of nations: a quantitative exploration," Staff Report 204, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1991. "Agricultural Productivity, Comparative Advantage and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Marvin Goodfriend & John McDermott, 1994. "Early development," Working Paper 94-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  9. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  10. Echevarria, Cristina, 1997. "Changes in Sectoral Composition Associated with Economic Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(2), pages 431-52, May.
  11. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
  12. Peter Timmer, C., 1988. "The agricultural transformation," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 275-331 Elsevier.
  13. Robert E. Lucas, 2000. "Some Macroeconomics for the 21st Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 159-168, Winter.
  14. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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