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Agriculture in the Economy: the evolution of economists' perceptions over three centuries


  • Throsby, C.D.


This paper traces the perceptions of the agricultural sector held by economists over the last three centuries, with particular emphasis on how the evolution of these ideas has influenced the state of present-day thinking about the economic role of agriculture in developed and developing economies. The paper begins with the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, leading to a consideration of the place of agriculture in the work of the major figures of classical political economy from Adam Smith to Marx. The rise of neo-classical economics, and its influence on twentieth century thinking, is discussed. In the contemporary period, particular attention is paid to agriculture in development theory, with an assessment of conflicting theoretical ideas about the role of the agricultural sector during the process of economic transformation and growth. The paper concludes with a consideration of the current state of economic thought about the role of agriculture in the economy, and makes some observations on likely future directions.

Suggested Citation

  • Throsby, C.D., 1986. "Agriculture in the Economy: the evolution of economists' perceptions over three centuries," Review of Marketing and Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 54(03), December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:remaae:12581

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Singh, Inderjit & Ahn, Choong Yong, 1978. "A dynamic multi-commodity model of the agricultural sector : A regional application in Brazil," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 155-179, August.
    2. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1978. "Rural Wages, Labor Supply, and Land Reform: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 847-861, December.
    3. Ruttan, Vernon W., 1965. "Growth Stage Theories And Agricultural Development Policy," Australian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 9(01), June.
    4. Rawski, Thomas G., 1979. "Economic growth and employment in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 7(8-9), pages 767-782.
    5. Pyatt, Graham & Round, Jeffrey I, 1977. "Social Accounting Matrices for Development Planning," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 23(4), pages 339-364, December.
    6. Schultz, Theodore W, 1980. "Nobel Lecture: The Economics of Being Poor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 639-651, August.
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