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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

J. Mohan Rao

Second Advisor

Peter Skott

Third Advisor

James Heintz

Subject Categories

Growth and Development

Abstract

This dissertation examines three aspects of the macroeconomic role of agriculture in the industrialization of developing countries. In the first essay, I utilize instrumental variable techniques to empirically identify the effect of growth in agriculture on growth in manufacturing. Using data for 62 countries and instrumental variable techniques, I find that higher land yields in agriculture raise growth in manufacturing in the short to medium run. Along with extensions of the basic empirical model, this finding suggests that land-saving technical change can stimulate demand for industrial goods, raise fiscal revenues, and provide foreign exchange earnings to finance capital accumulation. In the second essay, I examine the role of biased-technical change in agriculture in the formation of aggregate demand for industry. I use a two-sector growth model to show that, under conditions of low factor substitutability and hidden unemployment, land-saving innovations can raise rural employment, enlarge the domestic market for manufactures, and promote faster industrial accumulation --- in contrast to labor-saving innovations. I also develop saving-constrained and open economy extensions of the baseline model. The essay casts light on a recent strand of empirical studies --- including the first essay of this dissertation --- which have identified a positive impact of higher land yields on industrial growth. Finally, in the third essay I develop a political-economic explanation for the labor-displacing trend that existed across the larger and most dynamic agricultural establishments in Brazil during the 1950-1980 period. Using primary data and the secondary literature, I document this trend and argue that it resulted from the interaction between public policies to promote the use of modern inputs, on the one hand, and size and power inequality across landholdings, on the other hand. As a result, the pattern of technical change in agriculture aggravated the problem of underemployment that beset Brazil's industrialization, preventing a broader distribution of its benefits.

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