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Wages, Human Capital, and Barriers to Structural Transformation

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  • Berthold Herrendorf
  • Todd Schoellman

Abstract

We document for 13 countries ranging from rich (Canada, United States) to poor (India, Indonesia) that average wages are considerably lower in agriculture than in the other sectors. Moreover, agriculture has less educated workers and lower Mincer returns. We view these findings through the lens of a multi-sector model in which workers differ in observed and unobserved characteristics and sectors differ in their human-capital intensities. We derive expressions for the implied barriers to the reallocation of labor out of agriculture. We find that in our sample these barriers are considerably smaller than what the macro-development literature has argued.

Suggested Citation

  • Berthold Herrendorf & Todd Schoellman, 2018. "Wages, Human Capital, and Barriers to Structural Transformation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 1-23, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:1-23
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20160236
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    Cited by:

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    4. Katrin Millock & Cees Withagen, 2021. "Climate and Migration," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Anil Markandya & Dirk Rübbelke (ed.), CLIMATE AND DEVELOPMENT, chapter 10, pages 309-341, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    5. Myroslava Olievska & Arthur Romanov, 2021. "Investments In Human Capital Development And Wages: Relationships And Problems In Lower-Middle-Income Countries," Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, Publishing house "Baltija Publishing", vol. 7(1).
    6. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Amodio, Francesco & Poschke, Markus, 2019. "Selection and Absolute Advantage in Farming and Entrepreneurship," IZA Discussion Papers 12878, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Gottlieb, Charles & Grobovšek, Jan, 2019. "Communal land and agricultural productivity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 135-152.
    8. Porzio, Tommaso & Rossi, Federico & Santangelo, Gabriella, 2020. "The Human Side of Structural Transformation," CEPR Discussion Papers 15110, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Bustos, Paula & Castro Vincenzi, Juan Manuel & Monras, Joan & Ponticelli, Jacopo, 2018. "Structural Transformation, Industrial Specialization, and Endogenous Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 13379, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Lutz Hendricks & Todd Schoellman, 2018. "Human Capital and Development Accounting: New Evidence from Wage Gains at Migration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 665-700.
    11. Rivera-Padilla, Alberto, 2021. "Slums, allocation of talent, and barriers to urbanization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    12. Gordon Menzies, 2018. "A Synthesis of the Lewis Development Model and Neoclassical Trade Models," Working Paper Series 46, Economics Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney.
    13. Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira & Alexander Monge-Naranjo & Luciene Torres de Mello Pereira, 2016. "Of Cities and Slums," Working Papers 2016-22, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    14. Paula Bustos & Juan Manuel Castro-Vincenzi & Joan Monras & Jacopo Ponticelli, 2019. "Industrialization without Innovation," NBER Working Papers 25871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Max Gillman, 2019. "A Human Capital Theory of Structural Transformation," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp648, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    16. José Pulido & Tomasz Swiecki, 2019. "Barriers to Mobility or Sorting? Sources and Aggregate Implications of Income Gaps across Sectors and Locations in Indonesia," 2019 Meeting Papers 1298, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Merfeld, Joshua D., 2021. "Sectoral Wage Gaps and Gender in Rural India," IZA Discussion Papers 14391, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Abdur Rahman,Amanina Binti & Schmillen,Achim Daniel, 2020. "From Farms to Factories and Firms : Structural Transformation and Labor Productivity Growth in Malaysia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9463, The World Bank.
    19. Hang, Jing, 2020. "The gross output agricultural productivity gap," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    20. Cynthia Armas & Fernando Sánchez-Losada, 2021. "Structural change and the income of nations," UB Economics Working Papers 2021/412, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB School of Economics.
    21. Qingen Gai & Naijia Guo & Bingjing Li & Qinghua Shi & Xiaodong Zhu, 2021. "Migration Costs, Sorting, and the Agricultural Productivity Gap," Working Papers tecipa-693, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    22. Joshua D. Merfeld & Peter Brummund, 2022. "The importance of specification choices when analyzing sectoral productivity gaps," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 53(4), pages 605-616, July.
    23. Gollin, Douglas & Kirchberger, Martina & Lagakos, David, 2021. "Do urban wage premia reflect lower amenities? Evidence from Africa," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    24. Mafie, Gabriel K. & Hahn, Youjin & Yang, Hee-Seung, 2021. "Does Education Play a Role in Explaining the Rural‒Urban Wealth Gap? Evidence from Tanzania," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 62(2), pages 162-177, December.
    25. Abdulla, Kanat, 2021. "Regional convergence and structural transformation in a resource-dependent country," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 548-557.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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