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Why is Measured Productivity so Low in Agriculture?

  • Todd Schoellman

    (Arizona State University)

  • Berthold Herrendorf

    (Arizona State University)

It is well known that poor countries are much less productive in agriculture than in the rest of the economy, and that it is hard to account for these productivity gaps. In this paper, we study US states during 1980–2009. We find that there are large productivity gaps between agriculture and non–agriculture. These productivity gaps are not at all accounted for by gaps in real wages per efficiency unit, which are similar in the two sectors. Instead, they are accounted for by two key factors: human capital is much higher in non–agriculture; and value added is seriously mis–measured in agriculture.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 75.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:75
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Cristina Echevarria, 1998. "A Three-Factor Agricultural Production Function: The Case of Canada," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 63-75.
  2. Douglas Gollin & David Lagakos & Michael E. Waugh, 2011. "The Agricultural Productivity Gap in Developing Countries," Working Papers 11-14, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  3. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2009. "How important are dual economy effects for aggregate productivity?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 325-334, March.
  4. Restuccia, Diego & Yang, Dennis Tao & Zhu, Xiaodong, 2008. "Agriculture and aggregate productivity: A quantitative cross-country analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 234-250, March.
  5. Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia, 2014. "The Size Distribution of Farms and International Productivity Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1667-97, June.
  6. Fulginiti, Lilyan E. & Perrin, Richard K., 1993. "Prices and Productivity in Agriculture," Staff General Research Papers 773, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Barbara J. Craig & Philip G. Pardey & Johannes Roseboom, 1997. "International Productivity Patterns: Accounting for Input Quality, Infrastructure, and Research," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1064-1076.
  8. Hayami, Yujiro & Ruttan, Vernon W, 1970. "Agricultural Productivity Differences Among Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 895-911, December.
  9. Diego Restuccia & Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Policy Distortions and Aggregate Productivity with Heterogeneous Plants," NBER Working Papers 13018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Berthold Herrendorf & Arilton Teixeira, 2011. "Barriers To Entry And Development," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 573-602, 05.
  11. Nezih Guner & Gustavo Ventura & Xu Yi, 2008. "Macroeconomic Implications of Size-Dependent Policies," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(4), pages 721-744, October.
  12. Mundlack, Yair & Larson, Donald F. & Butzer, Rita, 2002. "Determinants of agricultural growth in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2803, The World Bank.
  13. 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.
  14. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  15. Fishelson, Gideon, 1974. "Relative Shares of Labor and Capital in Agriculture: A Subarid Area Israel, 1952-1969," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(3), pages 348-52, August.
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