IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Production Uncertainty and Agricultural Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Selvan Kumar


Abstract: While many parts of the developing world have experienced “green revolutions”, agricultural productivity growth in sub-Saharan Africa has stagnated for decades. In this paper, I argue that production uncertainty is a major factor inhibiting agricultural investment in the region, and that the negative effects of uncertainty on investment are exacerbated by credit constraints and immature financial markets. To test this theory, I exploit spatiotemporal variation in rainfall patterns as a source of exogenous variation in agricultural productivity uncertainty. Using data on 39 sub-Saharan nations from 1970-2000, I find that a one-standard deviation increase in rainfall volatility is associated with a 6.2-7.6 percent decline in the average agricultural investment rate. I also demonstrate that the negative effects of uncertainty on agricultural investment are heterogeneous with respect to levels of financial development – more financially mature nations are less susceptible to the negative effects of volatility on investment. These results are consistent with predictions from economic theory and prior empirical work, and have immediate implications for development policy in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Selvan Kumar, 2012. "Production Uncertainty and Agricultural Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa," GSIA Working Papers 2012-E43, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmu:gsiawp:422213697

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst R. Berndt & Linda T. Bui & David H. Lucking-Reiley & Glen L. Urban, 1996. "The Roles of Marketing, Product Quality, and Price Competition in the Growth and Composition of the U.S. Antiulcer Drug Industry," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of New Goods, pages 277-328 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1994. "Computing Markov-Perfect Nash Equilibria: Numerical Implications of a Dynamic Differentiated Product Model," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(4), pages 555-589, Winter.
    3. Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard & Jonathan Levin, 2007. "Estimating Dynamic Models of Imperfect Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1331-1370, September.
    4. Allan Collard-Wexler, 2006. "Demand Fluctuations and Plant Turnover in the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry," Working Papers 06-25, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    5. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
    6. Ilan Guedj & David Scharfstein, 2004. "Organizational Scope and Investment: Evidence from the Drug Development Strategies and Performance of Biopharmaceutical Firms," NBER Working Papers 10933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Pierre Azoulay, 2002. "Do Pharmaceutical Sales Respond to Scientific Evidence?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 551-594, December.
    8. Victor Aguirregabiria & Pedro Mira, 2002. "Swapping the Nested Fixed Point Algorithm: A Class of Estimators for Discrete Markov Decision Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1519-1543, July.
    9. Grabowski, Henry G. & Vernon, John M., 1994. "Returns to R&D on new drug introductions in the 1980s," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 383-406.
    10. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cmu:gsiawp:422213697. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Steve Spear). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.