Rapid population growth and technical and institutional change.

Ruttan VW; Hayami Y
In: Consequences of rapid population growth in developing countries. Proceedings of the United Nations / Institut National d'Etudes Demographiques Expert Group Meeting, New York, 23-26 August 1988. New York, New York, Taylor and Francis, 1991. 127-57.

The theory of induced innovation, which incorporates both demand and supply side perspectives, is used in this article to examine the relationship between rapid population growth and technical and institutional change, which is considered to be dynamic. Discussion of induced technical change is focused on the following topics: the theory of induced technical change, and induced technical change in preindustrial and in industrial society. Technical change is considered to be generally endogenous to the economic system, but without a "hidden hand" that guides change efficiently. In preindustrial society, agricultural growth in output was accompanied by a decline in labor productivity, output/hour or day, and may have involved an increase in annual output or income/worker. The Boserup model is considered to be fully consistent with the more general induced innovation model. Land use intensification is a response to growing pressure on land reserves due to population pressure. In the long run annual output/worker tends to stagnate decline as the response of indigenous technical change to growth of population declines. Higher agricultural production growth rates have required institutionalization of the delivery of knowledge and technology to farm people and the maintenance of higher levels of investment in human capital. The topics or induced institutional change include the following: a definition of institutional innovation, a theory of induced institutional innovation, a Philippine village case study of population growth and the demand for institutional innovation, changes in technology and resource endowments, institution innovation, and efficiency and equity implications. German institutional innovation was diffused to the US and Japan, and biological and chemical advances which increased yields were adopted by the Western world. Diffusion of institutional innovation in south and southeast Asia has lead to advances in rice and wheat production. Disequilibrium did occur between economic incentives and technological opportunities, while the prototype technology available in advanced countries was adapted to agroclimatic and socioeconomic conditions. New seed fertilizer technology did not have the same impact in Africa however due to a lag in institutional development that was greater than even in southeast Asia. The heterogeneous cultural mix makes for difficult consensus and inhibited political mobilization. The challenge ahead is to respond to the African population growth and food demand while political institutions are evolving to implement and sustain innovations.

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