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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 43 No. 4 (December 2005)

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Economic Growth: Lessons from Two Centuries of American Agriculture

Article Citation

Mundlak, Yair. 2005. "Economic Growth: Lessons from Two Centuries of American Agriculture." Journal of Economic Literature, 43(4): 989-1024.

DOI: 10.1257/002205105775362005

Abstract

This paper reviews the growth experience of U.S. agriculture over the past two centuries in consonance with the view that growth is determined by the economic environment, which consists of the available technology, incentives, constraints, and institutions. Within this framework, the implemented technology is determined jointly with the resource allocation. The review covers the role played by resource endowment, resource flow, technical change and its factor bias, and product demand. It highlights the importance of the income elasticity of demand and the labor augmentation of the technical change. The total factor productivity (TFP) was almost nil at the beginning of the nineteenth century, increasing gradually to the point where it exhausted output growth in the latter part of the twentieth century. This pattern is consistent with the postulate emerging from this framework, where the TFP is endogenous and determined jointly with growth rather than determining it. The more recent performance of U.S. agriculture is placed within a global perspective in order to generalize the discussion.

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Mundlak, Yair


Journal of Economic Literature


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