Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 28 No. 1 (Winter 2014)


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Agriculture in the Global Economy

Article Citation

Alston, Julian M., and Philip G. Pardey. 2014. "Agriculture in the Global Economy." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(1): 121-46.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.1.121


The past 50-100 years have witnessed dramatic changes in agricultural production and productivity, driven to a great extent by public and private investments in agricultural research, with profound implications especially for the world's poor. In this article, we first discuss how the high-income countries like the United States represent a declining share of global agricultural output while middle-income countries like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia represent a rising share. We then look at the differing patterns of agricultural inputs across countries and the divergent productivity paths taken by their agricultural sectors. Next we examine productivity more closely and the evidence that the global rate of agricultural productivity growth is declining—with potentially serious prospects for the price and availability of food for the poorest people in the world. Finally we consider patterns of agricultural research and development efforts.

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Alston, Julian M. (U CA, Davis and Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics)
Pardey, Philip G. (U MN, St Paul)

JEL Classifications

O13: Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products
Q10: Agriculture: General


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