Population growth and agricultural productivity.

Hayami Y; Ruttan VW
In: Population growth and economic development: issues and evidence, edited by D. Gale Johnson and Ronald D. Lee. Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987. 57-101. (Social Demography.)

In the agriculture of developing countries, with land becoming increasingly scarce and expensive relative to labor as population pressure against land resources increases, the development of biological and chemical technologies is the most efficient way to promote agricultural growth. Technological progress of this type tends to made small-scale operations more efficient. It thereby induces an agrarian structure characterized by a unimodal distribution of small family farms, rather than a bimodal distribution consisting of large commercial farmers and large numbers of landless or near landless laborers. Moreover, because biological and chemical technologies tend to be generally biased, or at least neutral, toward labor use, they help counteract the effect of population pressure on land rent and wages. The emergence of the green revolution perspective can be considered a worldwide response to the demand for more intensive land use associated with the growth of population relative to land resources. The association between more intensive cultivation and declining levels of labor productivity under conditions of rapid population growth has, at times, been reversed by a combination of technology transfer and institutionalization of the domestic capacity to adapt and invent biological and chemical technologies. This view is consistent with the green revolution experience in East, Southeast, and South Asia. If rapid population growth continues indefinitely, however, these gains will be difficult to maintain.

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