Heterogeneity, Measurement Error and Misallocation: Evidence from African Agriculture

106 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2019 Last revised: 7 Jul 2023

See all articles by Douglas Gollin

Douglas Gollin

Oxford Department of International Development; Williams College; Yale University

Christopher Udry

Northwestern University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2019


Standard measures of productivity display enormous dispersion across farms in Africa. Crop yields and input intensities appear to vary greatly, seemingly in conflict with a model of efficient allocation across farms. In this paper, we present a theoretical framework for distinguishing between measurement error, unobserved heterogeneity, and potential misallocation. Using rich panel data from farms in Tanzania and Uganda, we estimate our model using a flexible specification in which we allow for several kinds of measurement error and heterogeneity. We find that measurement error and heterogeneity together account for a large fraction – as much as ninety percent -- of the dispersion in measured productivity. In contrast to some previous estimates, we suggest that the potential for efficiency gains through reallocation of land across farms and farmers may be relatively modest.

Suggested Citation

Gollin, Douglas and Udry, Christopher, Heterogeneity, Measurement Error and Misallocation: Evidence from African Agriculture (January 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25440, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3315274

Douglas Gollin (Contact Author)

Oxford Department of International Development ( email )

Queen Elizabeth House
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United Kingdom

Williams College ( email )

Fernald House
Williamstown, MA 01267
United States

Yale University ( email )

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New Haven, CT 06520-8264
United States

Christopher Udry

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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