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Structural Change Out of Agriculture: Labor Push versus Labor Pull

  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado
  • Markus Poschke

A declining agricultural employment share is a key feature of economic development. Its main drivers are: improvements in agricultural technology combined with Engel's law release resources from agriculture ("labor push"), and improvements in industrial technology attract labor out of agriculture ("labor pull"). We present a model with both channels and evaluate the importance using data on 12 industrialized countries since the nineteenth century. Results suggest that the "pull" channel dominated until 1920 and the "push" channel dominated after 1960. The "pull" channel mattered more in countries in early stages of the structural transformation. This contrasts with modeling choices in recent literature. (JEL E23, N10, N53, O10, O47).

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 127-58

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:3:y:2011:i:3:p:127-58
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.3.3.127
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  1. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1991. "Agricultural Productivity, Comparative Advantage and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Diego Restuccia & Dennis Tao Yang & Xiaodong Zhu, 2007. "Agriculture and Aggregate Productivity: A Quantitative Cross-Country Analysis," Working Papers e07-3, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
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  7. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-107 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Mathan Satchi & Jonathan Temple, 2008. "Online Appendix for "Labor Markets and Productivity in Developing Countries"," Technical Appendices 06-167, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  9. Mathan Satchi & Jonathan Temple, 2008. "Labour Markets and Productivity in Developing Countries," Studies in Economics 0805, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  10. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2009. "Structural Change in an Interdependent World: A Global View of Manufacturing Decline," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 478-486, 04-05.
  11. Benjamin N. Dennis & Talan Iscan, 2007. "Accounting for Structural Change: Evidence from Two Centuries of U.S. Data," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive account7, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  12. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Markus Poschke, 2011. "Structural Change Out of Agriculture: Labor Push versus Labor Pull," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 127-58, July.
  13. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  14. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2006. "The Depressing Effect of Agricultural Institutions on the Prewar Japanese Economy," NBER Working Papers 12081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2001. "Reshaping The Landscape: The Impact And Diffusion Of The Tractor In American Agriculture, 1910 1960," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 663-698, September.
  16. Magnac, Thierry & Postel-Vinay, Gilles, 1997. "Wage Competition between Agriculture and Industry in Mid-Nineteenth Century France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-26, January.
  17. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, 07.
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