Inappropriate Technology: Evidence from Global Agriculture

98 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2021 Last revised: 12 Sep 2022

See all articles by Jacob Moscona

Jacob Moscona

Harvard University; Harvard University

Karthik Sastry

Harvard University, Department of Economics

Date Written: September 10, 2022


An influential explanation for global productivity differences is that frontier technologies are adapted to the high-income countries that develop them and “inappropriate” elsewhere. We study this inappropriate technology hypothesis in agriculture by using mismatch in the presence of crop pests and pathogens (CPPs) as a shifter of technology's inappropriateness and investigating its effect on technology diffusion and productivity. CPP mismatch reduces plant-variety transfer at the crop-by-country-pair level, particularly from innovation-intensive origins. CPP mismatch with these innovation-intensive countries reduces crop production. Our estimates, combined with a model, imply that inappropriateness reduces global productivity by 58% and increases cross-country disparities by 15%.

Keywords: inappropriate technology, agriculture, biotechnology, crop pests and pathogens

JEL Classification: O3, O4, Q1, Q57

Suggested Citation

Moscona, Jacob and Sastry, Karthik, Inappropriate Technology: Evidence from Global Agriculture (September 10, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Jacob Moscona

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://

Karthik Sastry (Contact Author)

Harvard University, Department of Economics ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138

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