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Transportation Costs, Agricultural Productivity, And Cross‐Country Income Differences

  • Tasso Adamopoulos

There are large differences in transportation infrastructure across nations. Constructing a measure of transportation infrastructure density for a large set of countries, I show that the disparity in this measure between the 5% income rich and the 5% income poor countries is a factor of 28. Are these differences a source of productivity differences across nations? Using a three-sector, two-region, general equilibrium model, I show that high transport costs can distort the allocation of resources not only across geographically dispersed production units within sectors but also between agriculture and non-agriculture. Taking as given the observed differences in transportation infrastructure densities, I quantify the role of transportation for cross-country income differences. The calibrated model produces an income disparity of 10.9 between the 5% rich and 5% poor countries. This corresponds to an improvement of 35% relative to the disparity predicted by a two sector model of agriculture and non-agriculture. Furthermore, the effects of advancements in transportation are non-linear: the elasticity of aggregate labor productivity with respect to the stock of transportation infrastructure in the poorest nations is 15 times higher than in the richest ones

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 489-521

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:52:y:2011:i:2:p:489-521
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