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Structural Change Out Of Agriculture: Labor Push Versus Labor Pull

  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado

    ()

  • Markus Poschke

    ()

The process of economic development is characterized by substantial rural-urban migrations and a decreasing share of agriculture in output and employment. The literature highlights two main engines behind this process of structural change: (i) improvements in agricultural technology combined with the effect of Engel's law of demand push resources out of the agricultural sector (the "labor push" hypothesis), and (ii) improvements in industrial technology attract labor into this sector (the "labor pull" hypothesis). We present a simple model that features both channels and use it to explore their relative importance. We evaluate the U.S. time series since 1800 and a sample of 13 industrialized countries starting in the 19th century. Our results suggest that, on average, the "labor pull" channel dominates. This contrasts to popular modeling choices in the recent literature.

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Paper provided by McGill University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2009-08.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2009-08
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  1. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Poschke, Markus, 2009. "Structural Change out of Agriculture: Labor Push versus Labor Pull," IZA Discussion Papers 4247, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher Pissarides, 2004. "Structural change in a multi-sector model of growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3550, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Benjamin N. Dennis & Talan Iscan, 2007. "Accounting for Structural Change: Evidence from Two Centuries of U.S. Data," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive account7, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  4. Mathan Satchi & Jonathan Temple, 2008. "Labour Markets and Productivity in Developing Countries," Studies in Economics 0805, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  5. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1991. "Agricultural Productivity, Comparative Advantage and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Douglas Gollin & Stephen Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2002. "The Role of Agriculture in Development," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  7. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
  8. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2006. "The Depressing Effect of Agricultural Institutions on the Prewar Japanese Economy," NBER Working Papers 12081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
  10. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, August.
  11. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  12. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2009. "Structural Change in an Interdependent World: A Global View of Manufacturing Decline," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 478-486, 04-05.
  13. Diego Restuccia & Dennis Tao Yang & Xiaodong Zhu, 2007. "Agriculture and Aggregate Productivity: A Quantitative Cross-Country Analysis," Working Papers e07-3, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
  14. Mathan Satchi & Jonathan Temple, 2008. "Online Appendix for "Labor Markets and Productivity in Developing Countries"," Technical Appendices 06-167, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  15. Magnac, Thierry & Postel-Vinay, Gilles, 1997. "Wage Competition between Agriculture and Industry in Mid-Nineteenth Century France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-26, January.
  16. Smits, J.-P. & Woltjer, P. & Ma, D., 2009. "A Dataset on Comparative Historical National Accounts, ca.1870-1950: A Time-Series Perspective," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-107, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  17. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2001. "Reshaping The Landscape: The Impact And Diffusion Of The Tractor In American Agriculture, 1910 1960," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 663-698, September.
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