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Geography and Agricultural Productivity: Cross-Country Evidence from Micro Plot-Level Data

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  • Tasso Adamopoulos
  • Diego Restuccia

Abstract

Why is agricultural productivity so low in poor countries relative to the rest of the world? Is it due to geography or constrained economic choices? We assess the quantitative role of geography and land quality for agricultural productivity differences across countries using high-resolution micro-geography data and a spatial accounting framework. Our rich spatial data provide in each cell of land covering the entire globe actual yields of cultivated crops and potential yields for 18 crops, which measure the maximum attainable output for each crop given soil quality, climate conditions, terrain topography, and a level of cultivation inputs. While there is considerable heterogeneity in land quality across space, even within narrow geographic regions, we find that low agricultural productivity in poor countries is not due to poor land endowments. If countries produced current crops in each cell according to potential yields, the rich-poor agricultural yield gap would virtually disappear, from more than 200 percent to less than 5 percent. We also find evidence of additional productivity gains attainable through the spatial reallocation of production and changes in crop choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia, 2018. "Geography and Agricultural Productivity: Cross-Country Evidence from Micro Plot-Level Data," Working Papers tecipa-598, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-598
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    Cited by:

    1. Ryota Nakatani, 2017. "External Adjustment in a Resource-Rich Economy: The Case of Papua New Guinea," IMF Working Papers 2017/267, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia, 2020. "Land Reform and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis with Micro Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 1-39, July.
    3. Tasso Adamopoulos & Loren Brandt & Jessica Leight & Diego Restuccia, 2017. "Misallocation, Selection and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis with Panel Data from China," Working Papers tecipa-593, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    4. Dorinet, Elizavetta & Jouvet, Pierre-André & Wolfersberger, Julien, 2021. "Is the agricultural sector cursed too? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    5. Dorinet, Elizavetta & Jouvet, Pierre-André & Wolfersberger, Julien, 2021. "Is the agricultural sector cursed too? Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    6. Hernandez, M. & Britos, B. & Robles, M. & Trupkin, D., 2018. "Land market distortions: Theory and evidence from Guatemala," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277031, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Gordon Menzies, 2018. "A Synthesis of the Lewis Development Model and Neoclassical Trade Models," Working Paper Series 46, Economics Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney.
    8. Rivera-Padilla, Alberto, 2020. "Crop choice, trade costs, and agricultural productivity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    9. Hans Weisfeld & Mr. Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu & Alexis Meyer-Cirkel & Akira Sasahara, 2019. "Importing Inputs for Climate Change Mitigation: The Case of Agricultural Productivity," IMF Working Papers 2019/026, International Monetary Fund.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    agriculture; land quality; productivity; spatial allocation; crop choice; cross-country.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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