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Do the Malthusian fears ever die? A note on the recent increase in food prices


  • Argentino Pessoa

    () (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto)


Beginning with a snapshot of the recent raise in food prices, the present paper put in question the hypothesis of it be a response to the near end of resources. Examining some medium and long-run factors that explain the evolution of food production, with special focus on cereals, using data of the World Bank for the last 45 years, and a regression for a cross-section of 106 countries, we show that: a) the capacity to feed a growing population has been associated to a sustained increase in productivity, measured by the cereal yields b) the increase in cereal yields is negatively associated to the increase in land under cereal production c) there is large room to go on increasing cereal production and productivity in low and middle-income countries, profiting from the productivity gap that differentiate them from the high-income countries. So, the main conclusion is that the Limits to Grow' perspective and the associated Malthusian fears have no empirical support.

Suggested Citation

  • Argentino Pessoa, 2008. "Do the Malthusian fears ever die? A note on the recent increase in food prices," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 17(22), pages 1-11.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-08q00019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
    2. Argentino Pessoa, 2008. "Public-Private Sector Partnerships In Developing Countries: Are Infrastructures Responding To The New Oda Strategy," FEP Working Papers 266, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    3. Argentino Pessoa, 2008. "Public-private partnerships in developing countries: are infrastructures responding to the new ODA strategy?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(3), pages 311-325.
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    JEL classification:

    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture


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