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The Missing Food Problem: Trade, Agriculture, and International Productivity Differences

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  • Trevor Tombe

Abstract

Agriculture in poor countries has low productivity, high employment, and negligible trade flows relative to other sectors. These facts motivate a multisector, open-economy view of international productivity differences. With a quantitative multicountry model featuring nonhomothetic preferences, multiple interrelated sectors, distorted labor markets, and costly trade, I find: trade amplifies the negative effect of labor market distortions; trade costs—large for poor countries, especially in agriculture—significantly contribute to international productivity differences; and explicitly modeling agriculture reveals additional channels through which poor countries may gain from trade. (JEL F41, J24, J43, O13, O19, Q11, Q17)

Suggested Citation

  • Trevor Tombe, 2015. "The Missing Food Problem: Trade, Agriculture, and International Productivity Differences," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 226-258, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:226-58
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20130108
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade

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