IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Size Distribution of Farms and International Productivity Differences

  • Tasso Adamopoulos

    (York University)

Using internationally comparable data from the World Agricultural Census, we document a factor of 36 difference in average farm size between rich and poor countries. Small farms of less than 2 hectares represent more than 70% of farms in poor countries but only 15% in rich countries, whereas large farms of more than 20 hectares represent none of the farms in poor countries and almost 40% in rich countries. Two questions emerge. First, what explains the striking differences in farm size across countries? Second, are farm-size differences important in understanding agricultural and aggregate productivity gaps across countries? We develop a two sector model with agriculture and non-agriculture that features a non-degenerate size distribution of farms. The theory embeds a Lucas (1978) span-of-control model of farm size into a standard sectoral model with non-homothetic preferences. In the model calibrated to the United States, a reduction in economy-wide productivity from 1 to 1/4 produces an increase in the share of employment in agriculture from 2.5% to 53%, a 21-fold reduction in average farm size, and a 25-fold reduction in agricultural labor productivity. These results are broadly consistent with data on the sectoral allocation of labor and the size distribution of farms across countries.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2010 Meeting Papers with number 1145.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:1145
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Akos Valentinyi & Berthold Herrendorf, 2008. "Measuring Factor Income Shares at the Sector Level," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 820-835, October.
  2. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2007. "The Role of the Structural Transformation in Aggregate Productivity," Working Papers tecipa-300, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  3. Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2009. "The Rise of the Service Economy," NBER Working Papers 14822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2006. "Transportation Costs, Agricultural Productivity and Cross-Country Income Differences," 2006 Meeting Papers 663, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J Klenow, 2008. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," 2008 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Berthold Herrendorf & Todd Schoellman, 2015. "Why is Measured Productivity so Low in Agriculture?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 1003-1022, October.
  7. Guner, Nezih & Ventura, Gustavo & Xu, Yi (Daniel), 2007. "Macroeconomic Implications of Size-Dependent Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 6138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Areendam Chanda & Carl-Johan Dalgaard, . "Dual Economies and International Total Factor Productivity Differences," Departmental Working Papers 2005-11, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  9. Francisco J. Buera & Joseph P. Kaboski, 2008. "Scale and the origins of structural change," Working Paper Series WP-08-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Douglas Gollin & Stephen Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2002. "The Role of Agriculture in Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 160-164, May.
  11. Ngai, Liwa Rachel & Pissarides, Christopher, 2004. "Structural Change in a Multi-Sector Model of Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 4763, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Pan, Lei & Christiaensen, Luc J.M., 2012. "Who is Vouching for the Input Voucher? Decentralized Targeting and Elite Capture in Tanzania," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 122905, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  13. Daron Acemoglu & Veronica Guerrieri, 2008. "Capital Deepening and Nonbalanced Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 467-498, 06.
  14. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1993. "Power, distortions, revolt, and reform in agricultural land relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1164, The World Bank.
  15. Easterly, William, 2001. " The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-35, December.
  16. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2013. "Misallocation and productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 1-10, January.
  17. Alain de Janvry, 1981. "The Role of Land Reform in Economic Development: Policies and Politics," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 63(2), pages 384-392.
  18. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1995. "Productivity, Volume 1: Postwar US Economic Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100495, June.
  19. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2008. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 707-720, October.
  20. Douglas Gollin, 2012. "The Agricultural Productivity Gap in Developing Countries," 2012 Meeting Papers 510, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  21. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Nobody's Business but My Own: Self Employment and Small Enterprise in Economic Development," Center for Development Economics 172, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  22. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
  23. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, 1985. "Farm size, land yields and the agricultural production function: An analysis for fifteen developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 513-534, April.
  24. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  25. Binswanger, Hans P., 1991. "Brazilian policies that encourage deforestation in the Amazon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 19(7), pages 821-829, July.
  26. Diego Restuccia & Dennis Tao Yang & Xiaodong Zhu, 2003. "Agriculture and Aggregate Productivity: A Quantitative Cross-Country Analysis," Working Papers diegor-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  27. Wiebe, Keith D. & Soule, Meredith J. & Narrod, Clare A. & Breneman, Vincent E., 2000. "Resource Quality And Agricultural Productivity: A Multi-Country Comparison," 2000 Annual meeting, July 30-August 2, Tampa, FL 21723, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  28. Adriano, Lourdes S., 1991. "A General Assessment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program," Working Papers WP 1991-13, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
  29. Michael Waugh & David Lagakos, 2009. "Specialization, Economic Development and Aggregate Productivity Differences," 2009 Meeting Papers 1248, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  30. Echevarria, Cristina, 1997. "Changes in Sectoral Composition Associated with Economic Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(2), pages 431-52, May.
  31. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  32. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2009. "How important are dual economy effects for aggregate productivity?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 325-334, March.
  33. David Lagakos, 2009. "Superstores or mom and pops? Technolgy adoption and productivity differences in retail trade," Staff Report 428, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  34. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2008. "Land Inequality and the Transition to Modern Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 257-282, April.
  35. David Lagakos & Michael E. Waugh, 2013. "Selection, Agriculture, and Cross-Country Productivity Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 948-80, April.
  36. Michael Maio & James Schmitz & Arilton Teixeira & Benjamin Bridgman, 2011. "Why Has Puerto Rico Performed So Poorly? Lessons from its Sugar Manufacturing Industry," 2011 Meeting Papers 1048, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  37. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  38. Kawagoe, Toshihiko, 1999. "Agricultural land reform in postwar Japan : experiences and issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2111, The World Bank.
  39. Bardhan, Pranab & Udry, Christopher, 1999. "Development Microeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198773719.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed010:1145. 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: (Christian Zimmermann)

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.