IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Missing Food Problem

Poor countries have low labour productivity in agriculture relative to other sectors, yet predominantly consume domestically produced food. The existing literature on cross-country agricultural and aggregate productivity differences abstracts from open economy considerations – leaving open the question of why poor countries import so little food. I propose an answer: high trade barriers and low relative input costs (wages) in developing-country agriculture. With a modified Eaton-Kortum trade model, I show these distortions reconcile the cross-country productivity data with observed trade flows. Through various counterfactual exercises, I find these distortions contribute to cross-country productivity differences and future work should ascertain their underlying causes.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tt0060.

in new window

Length: 37
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision: 2012
Handle: RePEc:wlu:wpaper:tt0060
Contact details of provider: Postal: 75 University Ave. West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5
Phone: (519) 884-0710 ext 2056
Fax: (519) 884-0201
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Douglas Gollin & Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Agriculture, Roads, and Economic Development in Uganda," NBER Working Papers 15863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Arilton Teixeira & Berthold Herrendorf, 2009. "Barriers to Entry and Development," Fucape Working Papers 22, Fucape Business School.
  3. Tasso Adamopoulos & Diego Restuccia, 2011. "The Size Distribution of Farms and International Productivity Differences," Working Papers tecipa-441, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2009. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," NBER Working Papers 15628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dennis Novy, 2013. "Gravity Redux: Measuring International Trade Costs With Panel Data," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 101-121, 01.
  6. Charles I. Jones, 2004. "The Shape of Production Function and the Direction of Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 10457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hiau Looi Kee & Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2004. "Import demand elasticities and trade distortions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3452, The World Bank.
  8. Douglas Gollin & Stephen L. Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2004. "Farm Work, Home Work, and International Productivity Differences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(4), pages 827-850, October.
  9. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Development Working Papers 201, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  10. Simonovska, Ina & Waugh, Michael E., 2014. "The elasticity of trade: Estimates and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 34-50.
  11. Samuel Kortum & Jonathan Eaton & Robert Dekle, 2007. "Unbalanced Trade," 2007 Meeting Papers 921, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2009. "The Role of the Structural Transformation in Aggregate Productivity," Working Papers tecipa-348, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Kawagoe, Toshihiko & Hayami, Yujiro & Ruttan, Vernon W., 1985. "The intercountry agricultural production function and productivity differences among countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 113-132.
  14. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher Pissarides, 2004. "Structural change in a multi-sector model of growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3550, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  15. 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.
  16. University of Iowa & Michael E. Waugh, 2007. "International Trade and Income Differences," 2007 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Berthold Herrendorf & Richard Rogerson & ?kos Valentinyi, 2013. "Two Perspectives on Preferences and Structural Transformation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2752-89, December.
  18. Piyabha Kongsamut & Sergio Rebelo & Danyang Xie, 1997. "Beyond Balanced Growth," NBER Working Papers 6159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Uy, Timothy & Yi, Kei-Mu & Zhang, Jing, 2013. "Structural change in an open economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 667-682.
  20. Alvarez, Fernando & Lucas, Robert Jr., 2007. "General equilibrium analysis of the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1726-1768, September.
  21. Córdoba, Juan Carlos & Ripoll, Marla, 2009. "Agriculture and aggregation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 110-112, October.
  22. Marla Ripoll & Juan Carlos Cordoba, 2005. "Agriculture` Aggregation` Wage Gaps` and Cross-Country Income Differences," Working Papers 246, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2005.
  23. Douglas Gollin & Stephen L. Parente & Richard Rogerson, 2004. "The Food Problem and the Evolution of International Income Levels," Working Papers 899, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  24. Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "The dual economy in long-run development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 287-312, December.
  25. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2011. "Transportation Costs, Agricultural Productivity, And Cross‐Country Income Differences," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 489-521, 05.
  26. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
  27. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Trade in Capital Goods," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-109, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  28. Hayami, Yujiro & Ruttan, Vernon W, 1970. "Agricultural Productivity Differences Among Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 895-911, December.
  29. Dave Donaldson, 2010. "Railroads of the Raj: Estimating the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure," NBER Working Papers 16487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. 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.
  31. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950-1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
  32. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert E. Lipsey & Haiyan Deng & Alyson C. Ma & Hengyong Mo, 2005. "World Trade Flows: 1962-2000," NBER Working Papers 11040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  34. Gibson, Paul R. & Wainio, John & Whitley, Daniel B. & Bohman, Mary, 2001. "Profiles Of Tariffs In Global Agricultural Markets," Agricultural Economics Reports 34055, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  35. 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.
  36. Berthold Herrendorf & Akos Valentinyi, 2005. "Which Sectors Make the Poor Countries so Unproductive?," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0519, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  37. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  38. Berthold Herrendorf & Ákos Valentinyi, 2012. "Which Sectors Make Poor Countries So Unproductive?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 323-341, 04.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wlu:wpaper:tt0060. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrei Kovacsik)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.