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Growth Pattern, Sustainability And Trade In A Land Constrained Economy

  • Irz, Xavier T.
  • Roe, Terry L.

This paper develops a two-sector model of growth where agriculture is considered explicitly. Key features of the model include: the reliance of agricultural production on a fixed but degrading resource base, the use by the farm sector of industrially produced inputs and differing rates of technological progress in the two sectors. On the demand side, the low income elasticity for food as well as the life-sustaining function of food consumption are recognized. In this simplified framework, the sustainability of growth can be related to the existence of a steady state reflecting the ability of the economy to feed its population. This property is used to identify the characteristics within and outside of agriculture conducive to the sustainability of a land-constrained economy. The empirical application identifies sub-Saharan Africa as the region of the world facing the most important challenges in terms of sustainability. The second part of the paper makes use of the transitional properties of the model to analyse the relationship between agricultural productivity and growth performance. For a closed economy, the model unambiguously supports the view that high agricultural productivity is conducive to fast growth and industrialization. Once the country is allowed to trade, however, the relationship becomes more complex, but a numerical experiment illustrates how trade liberalization can accelerate the growth of a country poorly endowed in agricultural resources.

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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL with number 21762.

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Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea00:21762
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  1. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
  2. Robertson, P.E., 1998. "Growth Accounting, Growth Theory and the East Asian Miracle," Papers 98/11, New South Wales - School of Economics.
  3. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1992. "Agricultural productivity, comparative advantage, and economic growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 317-334, December.
  4. Dan Ben-David, 1997. "Convergence Clubs and Subsistence Economies," NBER Working Papers 6267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sachs, J-D & Warner, A-M, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," Papers 517a, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  6. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Vernon Ruttan, 1998. "The new growth theory and development economics: A survey," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 1-26.
  8. Pinstrup-Andersen, Per & Pandya-Lorch, Rajul & Rosegrant, Mark W., 1997. "The world food situation," Food policy reports 7, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Maurice Schiff & Alberto Valdes, 1994. "The Plundering of Agriculture in Developing Countries," Reports _013, World Bank Latin America and the Caribean Region Department.
  10. Martin, Will & Mitra, Devashish, 1999. "Productivity growth and convergence in agriculture and manufacturing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2171, The World Bank.
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