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Would freeing up world trade reduce poverty and inequality ? the vexed role of agricultural distortions

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  • Anderson, Kym
  • Cockburn, John
  • Martin, Will

Abstract

Trade policy reforms in recent decades have sharply reduced the distortions that were harming agriculture in developing countries, yet global trade in farm products continues to be far more distorted than trade in nonfarm goods. Those distortions reduce some forms of poverty and inequality but worsen others, so the net effects are unclear without empirical modeling. This paper summarizes a series of new economy-wide global and national empirical studies that focus on the net effects of the remaining distortions to world merchandise trade on poverty and inequality globally and in various developing countries. The global LINKAGE model results suggest that removing those remaining distortions would reduce international inequality, largely by boosting net farm incomes and raising real wages for unskilled workers in developing countries, and would reduce the number of poor people worldwide by 3 percent. The analysis based on the Global Trade Analysis Project model for a sample of 15 countries, and nine stand-alone national case studies, all point to larger reductions in poverty, especially if only the non-poor are subjected to increased income taxation to compensate for the loss of trade tax revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Kym & Cockburn, John & Martin, Will, 2011. "Would freeing up world trade reduce poverty and inequality ? the vexed role of agricultural distortions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5603, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5603
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    1. François Bourguignon & Maurizio Bussolo & Luiz A. Pereira da Silva, 2008. "The Impact of Macroeconomic Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution : Macro-Micro Evaluation Techniques and Tools," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6586, November.
    2. Will Martin & Kym Anderson, 2006. "Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6889.
    3. Kym Anderson & William A. Masters, 2009. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2607, November.
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    5. Anderson, Kym & Kurzweil, Marianne & Martin, Will & Sandri, Damiano & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2008. "Measuring distortions to agricultural incentives, revisited," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(4), pages 675-704, October.
    6. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
    7. Bussolo, Maurizio & De Hoyos, Rafael E. & Medvedev, Denis, 2008. "Is the developing world catching up ? global convergence and national rising dispersion," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4733, The World Bank.
    8. Estudillo, Jonna P. & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2010. "Rural Poverty and Income Dynamics in Southeast Asia," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: Robert Evenson & Prabhu Pingali (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 67, pages 3435-3468, Elsevier.
    9. Francois Bourguignon & Victoria Levin & David Rosenblatt, 2004. "Declining International Inequality and Economic Divergence: Reviewing the Evidence Through Different Lenses," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 100, pages 13-26.
    10. Kym Anderson & Will Martin, 2009. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Asia," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2611.
    11. Thomas W. Hertel & Maros Ivanic & Paul V. Preckel & John A. L. Cranfield, 2004. "The Earnings Effects of Multilateral Trade Liberalization: Implications for Poverty," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 205-236.
    12. Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Ravallion, Martin, 2008. "Global poverty and inequality : a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4623, The World Bank.
    13. Kym Anderson, 2009. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives : A Global Perspective, 1955-2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 9436, November.
    14. Cranfield, J. A. L. & Preckel, Paul V. & Eales, James S. & Hertel, Thomas W., 2002. "Estimating consumer demands across the development spectrum: maximum likelihood estimates of an implicit direct additivity model," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 289-307, August.
    15. Valenzuela, Ernesto & Kym Anderson, 2009. "Alternative Agricultural Price Distortions for CGE Analysis of Developing Countries, 2004 and 1980-84," GTAP Research Memoranda 2925, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kym Anderson, 2013. "Agricultural price distortions: trends and volatility, past, and prospective," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(s1), pages 163-171, November.
    2. Richard Pomfret & Kym Anderson, 2014. "Globalisation and Agricultural Trade," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 54(3), pages 285-306, November.
    3. Cardwell, Ryan, 2014. "Madly Off in All Directions - The Pursuit of Preferential Trade Agreements by North American Governments," Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy, Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade, vol. 15(2), pages 1-8.
    4. Kym Anderson & Markus Bruckner, 2012. "Distortions to Agriculture and Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Departmental Working Papers 2012-06, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    5. Mohamed Abdelasset Chemingui, 2011. "Welfare Effects From Reforming Agricultural Policies In Rich Countries In A Spatially Small Heterogeneous Agricultural Economy," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(02), pages 191-213.
    6. Dethier, Jean-Jacques & Effenberger, Alexandra, 2012. "Agriculture and development: A brief review of the literature," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 175-205.
    7. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Fan, Shenggen & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2021. "Global issues in agricultural development," IFPRI book chapters, in: Agricultural development: New perspectives in a changing world, chapter 2, pages 35-78, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Anderson, Kym & Jha, Shikha & Nelgen, Signe & Strutt, Anna, 2012. "Reexamining Policies for Food Security," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 301, Asian Development Bank.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rural Poverty Reduction; Economic Theory&Research; Emerging Markets; Trade Policy; Achieving Shared Growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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