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Unfavorable Land Endowment, Cooperation, and Reversal of Fortune

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  • Anastasia Litina

    (University of Luxembourg CREA)

Abstract

This research advances the hypothesis that reversal of fortunes in the process of economic develop- ment can be traced to the effect of natural land productivity on the desirable level of cooperation in the agricultural sector. In early stages of development, unfavorable land endowment enhanced the economic incentive for cooperation in the creation of agricultural infrastructure that could mitigate the adverse effect of the natural environment. Nevertheless, despite the beneficial effects of cooperation on the intensive margin of agriculture, low land productivity countries lagged behind during the agricultural stage of development. However, as cooperation, and its persistent effect on social capital, have become increasingly important in the process of industrialization, the transition from agriculture to industry among unfavorable land endowment economies was expedited, permitting those economies that lagged behind in the agricultural stage of development, to overtake the high land productivity economies in the industrial stage of development. Exploiting exogenous sources of variations in land productivity across countries the research further explores the testable predictions of the theory. It establishes that: (i) reversal of fortunes in the process of development can be traced to variation in natural land productivity across countries. Economies characterized by favorable land endowment dominated the world economy in the agricultural stage of development but were overtaken in the process of industrialization; (ii) lower level of land productivity in the past is associated with higher levels of contemporary social capital; (iii) cooperation, as reflected by agricultural infrastructure, emerged primarily in places were land was not highly productive and collective action could have diminished the adverse effects of the environment and enhance agricultural output.

Suggested Citation

  • Anastasia Litina, 2012. "Unfavorable Land Endowment, Cooperation, and Reversal of Fortune," DEM Discussion Paper Series 12-07, Department of Economics at the University of Luxembourg.
  • Handle: RePEc:luc:wpaper:12-07
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    3. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," Discussion Papers 14-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Olsson, Ola & Paik, Christopher, 2016. "Long-run cultural divergence: Evidence from the Neolithic Revolution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 197-213.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Land productivity; Cooperation; Social Capital; Economic development; Agriculture; Industrialization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • 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
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

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