IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Comparative Advantage: Theory and Application to Developing Country Agriculture


  • Ian Goldin


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 ...

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Goldin, 1990. "Comparative Advantage: Theory and Application to Developing Country Agriculture," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 16, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:16-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Leishman, David & Menkhaus, Dale J. & Whipple, Glen D., 1999. "Revealed Comparative Advantage And The Measurement Of International Competitiveness For Agricultural Commodities: An Empirical Analysis Of Wool Exporters," 1999 Annual Meeting, July 11-14, 1999, Fargo, ND 35691, Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    2. Timothy Williams, 2015. "Reconciling food and water security objectives of MENA and sub-Saharan Africa: is there a role for large-scale agricultural investments?," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 7(6), pages 1199-1209, December.
    3. Kirschke, D. & Weber, G., 2004. "Internationale Wettbewerbsfähigkeit und Optionen für die EU-Agrarpolitik," Proceedings "Schriften der Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaues e.V.", German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA), vol. 39.
    4. TORAYEH, Neveen M., 2013. "The Competitiveness Of The Egyptian Agricultural Export In The Eu Market;Should Egypt Diversify Its Trade Pattern?," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 13(2), pages 129-148.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:16-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.