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A meta-analysis of rates of return to agricultural R & D: ex pede Herculem?

  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Wyatt, T. J.
  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Marra, Michele C.
  • Chan-Kang, Connie

IFPRI has long argued that spending on agricultural research constitutes a sound investment in poverty reduction and agricultural and economic growth, through improvements in productivity. This argument is based partly on the reported evidence of high rates of return to agricultural research, typically believed to be in the range of 40–60 percent per year. Yet there continues to be controversy over whether these figures are to be believed, and over what they actually indicate. This study represents the first attempt to take a comprehensive look at all the available evidence on rates of return to investments in agricultural R&D since 1953, and the only attempt to do so in a formal statistical fashion. This report has compiled and documented the literature in ways that make it more accessible and more useful to other researchers and policymakers, as well as others interested in the evidence. The analysis reveals some systematic patterns and some sources of biases that make it easier to interpret the evidence and draw meaningful conclusions. (Excerpted from Summary by Per Pinstrup-Andersen)

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File URL: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/rr113.pdf
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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series Research reports with number 113.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:resrep:113
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  1. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton, 1992. "Distortionary Taxes and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 117-131, Summer.
  2. Mingxia Zhang, 1997. "The Effects of Imperfect Competition on the Size and Distribution of Research Benefits," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1252-1265.
  3. Alston, Julian M. & Venner, Raymond J., 2002. "The effects of the US Plant Variety Protection Act on wheat genetic improvement," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 527-542, May.
  4. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Taylor, Michael J., 2001. "Agricultural science policy," Food policy statements 32, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. 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.
  6. Pardey, Philip G. & Roseboom, Johannes & Beintema, Nienke M., 1997. "Investments in african agricultural research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 409-423, March.
  7. Smith, V. Kerry & Osborne, Laura L., 1996. "Do Contingent Valuation Estimates Pass a "Scope" Test? A Meta-analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 287-301, November.
  8. E. Pasour & Marc Johnson, 1982. "Bureaucratic productivity: The case of agricultural research revisited," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 301-317, January.
  9. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Roseboom, Johannes, 1998. "Financing agricultural research: International investment patterns and policy perspectives," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1057-1071, June.
  10. Alston, Julian M. & Sexton, Richard J. & Zhang, Mingxia, 1999. "Imperfect competition, functional forms, and the size and distribution of research benefits," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 21(2), October.
  11. Michael Harris & Alan Lloyd, 1991. "The Returns to Agricultural Research and the Underinvestment Hypothesis - A Survey," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 24(3), pages 16-27.
  12. Giancarlo Moschini & Harvey Lapan, 1997. "Intellectual Property Rights and the Welfare Effects of Agricultural R&D," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1229-1242.
  13. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Christian, Jason E. & Fan, Shenggen., 1996. "Hidden harvest," Food policy reports 6, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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