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The Agricultural Productivity Gap in Developing Countries

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  • Douglas Gollin
  • David Lagakos
  • Michael E. Waugh

Abstract

According to national accounts data for developing countries, value added per worker is on average four times higher in the non-agriculture sector than in agriculture. Taken at face value this ``agricultural productivity gap'' suggests that labor is greatly misallocated across sectors in the developing world. In this paper we draw on new micro evidence to ask to what extent the gap is still present when better measures of inputs and outputs are taken into consideration. We find that even after considering sector differences in hours worked and human capital per worker, urban-rural cost-of-living differences, and alternative measures of sector income from household survey data, a puzzlingly large agricultural productivity gap remains.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:11-14
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia, 2014. "The Size Distribution of Farms and International Productivity Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1667-1697, June.
    2. de Vries, Gaaitzen J. & Erumban, Abdul A. & Timmer, Marcel P. & Voskoboynikov, Ilya & Wu, Harry X., 2012. "Deconstructing the BRICs: Structural transformation and aggregate productivity growth," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 211-227.
    3. Alain de Janvry & Kyle Emerick & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2015. "Delinking Land Rights from Land Use: Certification and Migration in Mexico," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3125-3149, October.
    4. Koehler-Geib,Fritzi & Hnatkovska,Viktoria, 2015. "Business cycles accounting for Paraguay," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7284, The World Bank.
    5. Desmet, Klaus & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2015. "On the spatial economic impact of global warming," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 16-37.
    6. Todd Schoellman & Berthold Herrendorf, 2011. "Why is Agricultural Labor Productivity so Low in the United States?," 2011 Meeting Papers 1087, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Gharad Bryan & Shyamal Chowdhury & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2011. "Seasonal Migration and Risk Aversion," Working Papers id:4650, eSocialSciences.
    8. Vollrath, Dietrich, 2014. "The efficiency of human capital allocations in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 106-118.
    9. Zaneta Kubik, 2017. "Climatic variation as a determinant of rural-to-rural migration destination choice:Evidence from Tanzania," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 17037, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    10. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-136 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Todd Schoellman & Berthold Herrendorf, 2014. "Wages, Human Capital, and the Allocation of Labor across Sectors," 2014 Meeting Papers 364, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. repec:fip:fedreq:y:2011:i:3q:p:329-357:n:vol.97no.3 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Trevor Tombe, 2012. "The Missing Food Problem," Working Papers tt0060, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised 2012.
    14. Diego Restuccia, 2011. "Recent developments in economic growth," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 3Q, pages 329-357.
    15. Zaneta Kubik, 2017. "Climatic variation as a determinant of rural-to-rural migration destination choice: Evidence from Tanzania," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01599362, HAL.
    16. Dietrich Vollrath, 2013. "Measuring Aggregate Agricultural Labor Effort in Dual Economies," Eurasian Economic Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 3(1), pages 39-58, June.
    17. Collier, Paul & Dercon, Stefan, 2014. "African Agriculture in 50Years: Smallholders in a Rapidly Changing World?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 92-101.
    18. Wlasiuk, Juan Marcos, 2013. "The Mechanics of Real Undervaluation and Growth," MPRA Paper 56628, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. de Brauw, Alan & Mueller, Valerie & Lee, Hak Lim, 2014. "The Role of Rural–Urban Migration in the Structural Transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 33-42.
    20. Amartya Lahiri & Viktoria Hnatkovska, 2014. "Structural Transformation and the Rural-Urban Divide," 2014 Meeting Papers 746, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. Adeyinka, Adedeji & Salau, Sheu & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2013. "Structural change in the economy of Nigeria:," NSSP working papers 24, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    22. Brian McCaig & Nina Pavcnik, 2013. "Moving out of Agriculture: Structural Change in Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 19616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Dominick Bartelme & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2015. "Linkages and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 21251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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