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The Food Problem and the Evolution of International Income Levels

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  • Gollin, Douglas
  • Parente, Stephen L.
  • Rogerson, Richard

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of agricultural development on a country's overall development and growth experience. In most poor countries, large fractions of land, labor, and other productive resources are devoted to producing food for subsistence needs. This "food problem" can delay a country's industrial development for a long period of time, causing its per capita income to fall far behind the world leader. Once industrialization begins, this trend is reversed. The extent to which a country catches up to the leader depends primarily on factors that affect productivity in non-agricultural activities: agricultural productivity is thus largely irrelevant in the very long run. But in the short run, a country that experiences large improvements in agricultural productivity (due to, say, a Green Revolution) will experience a rapid increase in its income relative to the leaders.

Suggested Citation

  • Gollin, Douglas & Parente, Stephen L. & Rogerson, Richard, 2004. "The Food Problem and the Evolution of International Income Levels," Center Discussion Papers 28416, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:yaleeg:28416
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.28416
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food Security and Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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