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Are Small Farms Really more Productive than Large Farms?

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  • Fernando M. Aragon Sanchez
  • Diego Restuccia
  • Juan Pablo Rud

Abstract

This paper shows that using yields may not be informative of the relationship between farm size and productivity in the context of small-scale farming. This occurs because, in addition to productivity, yields pick up size-dependent market distortions and decreasing returns to scale. As a result, a positive relationship between farm productivity and land size may turn negative when using yields. We illustrate the empirical relevance of this issue with microdata from Uganda and show similar findings for Peru, Tanzania, and Bangladesh. In addition, we show that the dispersion in both measures of productivity across farms of similar size is so large that it renders farm size an ineffective indicator for policy targeting. Our findings stress the need to revisit the empirical evidence on the farm size-productivity relationship and its policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando M. Aragon Sanchez & Diego Restuccia & Juan Pablo Rud, 2019. "Are Small Farms Really more Productive than Large Farms?," NBER Working Papers 26331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26331
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    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C55 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Large Data Sets: Modeling and Analysis
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; Animal Welfare Policy

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