The Secrets of Agricultural Growth: Quality or Quantity?
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This research project is an effort to understand the process of late economic development by studying national differences in economic growth between 1870 and 1950. While traditional theories of economic development have attributed growth to industrialization, manufacturing, military spending, and other factors, we take a different approach by examining the crucial role that agriculture has played in the economic development of currently wealthy nations, such as the U.S. Specifically, unlike previous arguments that have emphasized one-nation domination of production by creating products of superior quality to be traded, we argue instead for a more egalitarian alternative that does not require food to be traded, or that nations have a big share of total world production. Using historical cookbook ratings on national ingredient quality, we tested the quality argument and found that there was no correlation between agricultural excellence and quality ratings. Furthermore, by analyzing world production and export data, we found that most exported products that were linked to successful economic development were non-traded rather than traded. In conclusion, our analysis supports the quantity argument, which indicates that economic growth can occur by increasing the volume of production without monopoly of a particular product.
Rahaman, Oluwaseun Hannah; Vogl, Justin (2016). The Secrets of Agricultural Growth: Quality or Quantity?. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from