Chasing After the Frontier in Agricultural Productivity
This paper explores international productivity patterns in agriculture. We test whether countries higher productivity growth has been experienced by countries that were initially further from the technological frontier. Based on a panel of 84 countries at various levels of development, we find support for convergence among OECD countries but divergence in our sample at large over the period 1960-2010. We then test whether technological catch-up is conditional on absorptive capacities and domestic investments in R&D. While agricultural research intensity has a significant effect on labor productivity growth, the size of this effect decreases the further the country is from the frontier. We calculate a threshold level for the effectiveness of research intensity: increased R&D contributes to catching up to the frontier for those countries with a distance to the frontier less than 22. We also test for additional factors affecting productivity growth, and find that secondary education plays a strong role in less developed countries, while trade openness appears to have had a positive effect on productivity in middle income countries. On the other hand, there is little evidence of much effect, either positive or negative from IPR protection. Of perhaps greater interest is the apparent impact of economic growth outside of agriculture in driving agricultural productivity improvements.
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