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The Quest for Productivity Growth in Agriculture and Manufacturing

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  • María Dolores Guilló
  • Fidel Pérez Sebastián

Abstract

We develop a theory to explain the transition from stagnation to modern growth. We focus on the forces that shaped the evolution of total factor productivity in agriculture and manufacturing across history. More specifically, we build a multisector model of endogenous technical-change and economic growth. We consider an expanding-variety setup with rising labor specialization and two different R&D technologies, one for agriculture and another for manufacturing. As a consequence, total factor productivity in the model can increase via two different channels. First, population growth allows larger levels of specialization of land and labor in the economy that bring efficiency gains. This type of productivity improvement is capital saving, but can not generate sustained growth. Technical change is also possible by investing in R&D. Unlike specialization, new technologies generated in this way are land and labor augmenting, and are the key to modern growth. In the model, the economy has not incentives to invest in R&D until a minimum knowledge base is available to researchers. This is in line with ideas contained in Mokyr (2005). To make possible the accumulation of this minimum knowledge base, we assume that learning-by-doing is the implicit underlying force that leads to specialization. However, land and labor specialization is based on knowledge whose nature differs in agriculture and in manufacturing. More specifically, whereas this knowledge is farm-specific in agriculture, mainly concern with the acquisition of uncodified information about local conditions of soil and whether, specialization in manufacturing is the result of general knowledge, mainly codified, that contributes at a larger extent to the knowledge base.

Suggested Citation

  • María Dolores Guilló & Fidel Pérez Sebastián, 2006. "The Quest for Productivity Growth in Agriculture and Manufacturing," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_005, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  • Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c011_005
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    File URL: http://degit.sam.sdu.dk/papers/degit_11/C011_005.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "Long-Term Economic Growth and the History of Technology," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 1113-1180 Elsevier.
    2. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
    3. Bernard, Andrew B & Jones, Charles I, 1996. "Productivity across Industries and Countries: Time Series Theory and Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 135-146, February.
    4. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
    5. Goodfriend, Marvin & McDermott, John, 1995. "Early Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 116-133, March.
    6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Adam B. Jaffe, 1993. "How High are the Giants' Shoulders: An Empirical Assessment of Knowledge Spillovers and Creative Destruction in a Model of Economic Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1993, Volume 8, pages 15-86 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Parente, Stephen L. & Prescott, Edward C., 2005. "A Unified Theory of the Evolution of International Income Levels," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1371-1416 Elsevier.
    8. Charles I. Jones & John C. Williams, 1998. "Measuring the Social Return to R&D," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1119-1135.
    9. Galor, Oded & Mountford, Andrew, 2002. "Why are a Third of People Indian and Chinese? Trade, Industrialization and Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 3136, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Gollin, Douglas & Parente, Stephen L. & Rogerson, Richard, 2007. "The food problem and the evolution of international income levels," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1230-1255, May.
    11. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
    12. Douglas Gollin & Stephen Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2002. "The Role of Agriculture in Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 160-164, May.
    13. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Labor- And Capital-Augmenting Technical Change," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-37, March.
    14. Córdoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2009. "Agriculture and aggregation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 110-112, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    stagnation; modern growth; specialization; learning-by-doing; R&D; Knowledge base;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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