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Are returns to investment lower for the poor? Human and physical capital interactions in rural Viet Nam

  • van de Walle, Dominique

If the marginal gains from investment in physical capital depend positively on knowledge, but a household cannot hire skilled labor to compensate for low skills, then even if it has access to credit, the household will achieve lower returns than an educated household. If, as is common, the income-poor are less educated because of failures in the credit market, and because they live in areas where there is less access to schooling, then the poor will also have lower returns on investments. The author tests this argument for the case of irrigation infrastructure in Vietnam. She asks how a household's education level, and demographic characteristics influence the gains to household income from irrigating previously unirrigated land. The next marginal benefit of irrigation increases strongly with the education of a household. The results suggest that unless disparities in education are addressed, market-oriented reforms will generate inequitable agricultural growth in Vietnam.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2425.

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Date of creation: 31 Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2425
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  1. Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa & Eve Caroli & Philippe Aghion, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1615-1660, December.
  2. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Human resources: Empirical modeling of household and family decisions," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1883-2023 Elsevier.
  3. Lockheed, Marlaine E & Jamison, Dean T & Lau, Lawrence J, 1987. "Farmer Education and Farm Efficiency: Reply," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 643-44, April.
  4. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Behavioral responses to risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 23-49, October.
  5. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Empirical Modeling of Household and Family Decisions," Papers 95-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
  6. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1999. "When is growth pro-poor? Evidence from the diverse experiences of India's states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2263, The World Bank.
  7. Dominique van de Walle & Dorothyjean Cratty, 2004. "Is the emerging non-farm market economy the route out of poverty in Vietnam?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 12(2), pages 237-274, 06.
  8. Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1995. "Human and physical infrastructure: Public investment and pricing policies in developing countries," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 43, pages 2773-2843 Elsevier.
  9. Minot, Nicholas, 1998. "Generating disaggregated poverty maps," MTID discussion papers 25, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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