The Economics of Agricultural R&D
Posted: 4 Jun 2010
Agricultural research has transformed agriculture and in doing so contributed to the transformation of economies. Economic issues arise because agricultural research is subject to various market failures, because the resulting innovations and technological changes have important economic consequences for net income and its distribution, and because the consequences are difficult to discern and attribute. Economists have developed models and measures of the economic consequences of agricultural R&D and related policies in contributions that relate to a very broad literature ranging across production economics, development economics, industrial organization, economic history, welfare economics, political economy, econometrics, and so on. A key general finding is that the social rate of return to investments in agricultural R&D has been generally high. Specific findings differ depending on methods and modeling assumptions, particularly assumptions concerning the research lag distribution, the nature of the research-induced technological change, and the nature of the markets for the affected commodities.
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