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Do Cows Have Negative Returns? The Evidence Revisited

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  • Gehrke, Esther

    () (German Development Institute)

  • Grimm, Michael

    () (University of Passau)

Abstract

This paper addresses the apparent paradox between widespread support of cattle farming by agricultural policy interventions and negative returns to cattle as stressed in recent works. Using a representative panel dataset for Andhra Pradesh, a state in the south of India, we examine average and marginal returns to cattle. One variant of our identification strategy builds on instrumental variable estimation, where the exposure to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is used as an instrument for investment in cattle. We find average returns in the order of -2% at the mean, but they vary across the cattle value distribution between negative 35% (in the lowest quintile) and positive 5% (in the highest). In contrast, marginal returns are positive over the entire distribution and, on average, as high as 13% annually. Both, average and marginal returns vary considerably not only across scale, but also across cattle breed and individual animal value. Our results suggest that cattle farming is associated with sizable non-convexities in the production technology and that substantial economies of scale as well a high upfront expenses of acquiring high productivity animals might trap poorer households in low-productivity asset levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Gehrke, Esther & Grimm, Michael, 2014. "Do Cows Have Negative Returns? The Evidence Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 8525, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8525
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1993. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing, and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investment in Bullocks in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 223-244, April.
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    3. McKenzie, David J & Woodruff, Christopher, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 3-42, October.
    4. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    5. Grimm, Michael & Hartwig, Renate & Lay, Jann, 2017. "Does forced solidarity hamper investment in small and micro enterprises?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 827-846.
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    7. Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg, 2014. "Holy Cows or Cash Cows?," NBER Working Papers 20304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Michael Grimm & Jens Krüger & Jann Lay, 2011. "Barriers To Entry And Returns To Capital In Informal Activities: Evidence From Sub‐Saharan Africa," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57, pages 27-53, May.
    9. Robert Cull & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Jonathan Morduch, 2014. "Banks and Microbanks," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 1-53, August.
    10. Dodlova, Marina & Göbel, Kristin & Grimm, Michael & Lay, Jann, 2015. "Constrained firms, not subsistence activities: Evidence on capital returns and accumulation in Peruvian microenterprises," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 94-110.
    11. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 423-423.
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    Cited by:

    1. Olivia Bertelli, 2019. "Investing in agriculture when it is worth it. Evidence from rural Uganda," Working Papers DT/2019/05, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    2. Muscillo, Alessio & Pin, Paolo & Razzolini, Tiziano & Serti, Francesco, 2018. "Does "Network Closure" Beef up Import Premium?," IZA Discussion Papers 12036, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    livestock; profits; investment; India;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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