American Economic Review: Vol. 104 No. 5 (May 2014)


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Agricultural Productivity Differences across Countries

Article Citation

Gollin, Douglas, David Lagakos, and Michael E. Waugh. 2014. "Agricultural Productivity Differences across Countries." American Economic Review, 104(5): 165-70.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.5.165


Recent studies argue that cross-country labor productivity differences are much larger in agriculture than in the aggregate. We reexamine the agricultural productivity data underlying this conclusion using new evidence from disaggregate sources. We find that for the world's staple grains—maize, rice, and wheat—cross-country differences in the quantity of grain produced per worker are enormous according to both micro- and macrosources. Our findings validate the idea that understanding agricultural productivity is at the heart of understanding world income inequality.

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Gollin, Douglas (U Oxford)
Lagakos, David (U CA, San Diego)
Waugh, Michael E. (NYU)

JEL Classifications

D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
O13: Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
Q11: Agriculture: Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
Q12: Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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