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International And Institutional R&D Spillovers: Attribution Of Benefits Among Sources For Brazil'S New Crop Varieties

  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Chan-Kang, Connie
  • Magalhaes, Eduardo Castelo
  • Vosti, Stephen A.

In general, reported rates of return to agricultural R&D are high, but questions have been raised about upward biases in the evidence. Among the reasons for this bias, insufficient attention to attribution aspects-matching of research benefits and costs-is a pervasive problem, the magnitude of which is illustrated here with new evidence for Brazil. Over the period 1981 to 2003, varietal improvements in upland rice, edible beans, and soybeans yielded benefits attributable to research of $14.8 billion in present value (1999 prices) terms; 6.1 percent of the corresponding value of crop output. If all of those benefits were attributed to Embrapa, a public research corporation accounting for more than half Brazil's agricultural R&D spending, the benefit-cost ratio would be 78:1. If a geometric attribution rule based on genetic histories is used in conjunction with quantitative evidence on the extent of research collaborations to account for the innovative effort of others, the ratio drops substantially to 16:1. The sources of these gains vary markedly among crops and over time, making it hard to generalize about the international and institutional origins of varietal innovations in Brazilian agriculture during the past several decades.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy in its series Working Papers with number 14422.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:umciwp:14422
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  1. Alston, Julian M. & Craig, Barbara J. & Pardey, Philip G., 1998. "Dynamics in the creation and depreciation of knowledge, and the returns to research:," EPTD discussion papers 35, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Christian, Jason E. & Fan, Shenggen, 1996. "Summary of a productive partnership: the benefits from U.S. participation in the CGIAR," EPTD discussion papers 18, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Evenson, Robert E & Gollin, Douglas, 1997. "Genetic Resources, International Organizations, and Improvement in Rice Varieties," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(3), pages 471-500, April.
  4. Julian M. Alston & Philip G. Pardey & Jennifer S. James & Matthew A. Anderson, 2009. "The Economics of Agricultural R&D," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 537-566, 09.
  5. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2002. "The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800 1940," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(04), pages 929-966, December.
  6. Martin, Will & Alston, Julian M, 1997. "Producer Surplus without Apology? Evaluating Investments in R&D," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 73(221), pages 146-58, June.
  7. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2001. "Attribution and other problems in assessing the returns to agricultural R&D," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 25(2-3), September.
  8. Brennan, John P., 1989. "Spillover effects of international agricultural research: CIMMYT-based semi-dwarf wheats in Australia," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 3(4), pages 323-332, December.
  9. Fullerton, Don, 1991. "Reconciling Recent Estimates of the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 302-08, March.
  10. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Magalhaes, Eduardo C. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2004. "Assessing and attributing the benefits from varietal improvement research in Brazil:," Research reports 136, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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