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Comparative Advantage: Theory and Application to Developing Country Agriculture

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  • Ian Goldin
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    This paper investigates the application of the principle of comparative advantage to policy analysis and policy formulation. It is concerned with both the theory and the measurement of comparative advantage. Despite its central role in economics, the theory is found to be at an impasse, with its usefulness confined mainly to the illustration of economic principles which in practice are not borne out by the evidence. The considerable methodological problems associated with the measurement of comparative advantage are highlighted in the paper. Attempts to derive indicators of comparative advantage, such as those associated with "revealed comparative advantage", "direct resource cost", "production cost" and "trade liberalisation" studies are reviewed. These methods are enlightening, but are unable to provide general perspectives which allow an analysis of dynamic comparative advantage. Comparative advantage, despite its centrality to economics, remains remote from policy ... Cet ouvrage s'intéresse à l'application du principe de l'avantage comparatif à l'analyse et l'expansion politiques, à la fois sur le plan de la théorie et sur celui de la mesure de l'avantage comparatif. Malgré son rôle essentiel en économie, cette notion se trouve dans une impasse puisqu'elle sert surtout à illustrer des principes économiques qui, dans la pratique, ne paraissent pas évidents. Les difficiles problèmes méthodologiques liés à la mesure de l'avantage comparatif sont donc mis en lumière. L'étude passe en revue les tentatives de définition d'indicateurs de l'avantage comparatif, par exemple les travaux sur "l'avantage comparatif révélé", "le coût direct de ressources", "le coût de production" et "la libéralisation des échanges". Malgré leur pertinence, ces méthodes restent cependant incapables d'apporter une perspective d'ensemble susceptible de concourir à l'analyse de l'avantage comparatif dynamique, lequel, en dépit de sa place centrale dans les théories ...

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Development Centre Working Papers with number 16.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jun 1990
    Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:16-en
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