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Recalibrating the Reported Rates of Return to Food and Agricultural R&D

  • Rao, Xudong
  • Hurley, Terrance M.
  • Pardey, Philip G.

Prices of basic food staples and feed crops have soared in recent years, renewing concerns about the ability of global food supplies to meet the projected growth in aggregate demand. Notwithstanding these concerns, and apparently at odds with a vast body of economic evidence reporting exceptionally high rates of return to investments in agricultural R&D, growth in public R&D spending for food and agriculture has slowed worldwide, especially in rich countries. Left unchecked, the consequent slowdown in agricultural productivity will push many more people into hunger and undercut economic growth, especially in the many economies worldwide still heavily reliant on agriculture. The observed R&D spending behavior is consistent with a determination that the rate of return evidence is implausible. We examine this notion, recalibrate a new, comprehensive compilation of the evidence, and find in favor of a much reduced rate of return to research. Nonetheless, the scaling back of public agricultural R&D spending is not supported from this new economic view of the evidence.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/124581
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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 124581.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124581
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  1. James Heckman, 2010. "Contributions of Zvi Griliches," NBER Chapters, in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 5-22 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fuglie, Keith O. & Heisey, Paul W., 2007. "Economic Returns to Public Agricultural Research," Economic Brief 6388, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  3. Alston, Julian M. & Andersen, Matthew A. & James, Jennifer S. & Pardey, Philip G., 2011. "The Economic Returns to U.S. Public Agricultural Research," Staff Papers 95522, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  4. Yuri Biondi, 2006. "The double emergence of the Modified Internal Rate of Return: The neglected financial work of Duvillard (1755�-�1832) in a comparative perspective," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 311-335.
  5. Jean Fouré & Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Lionel Fontagné, 2010. "The World Economy in 2050: a Tentative Picture," Working Papers 2010-27, CEPII research center.
  6. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2008. "Research Lags Revisited: Concepts and Evidence from U.S. Agriculture," Staff Papers 50091, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  7. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will, 2008. "Implications of higher global food prices for poverty in low-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4594, The World Bank.
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