Testing the Induced Innovation Hypothesis in South African Agriculture (an Error Correction Approach)
40 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 1995
Apparently factor prices do matter in agricultural production and in the selection of production technology. And in South Africa, more attention should be focused on the technological needs of small-scale farmers. Current policies sustain the bias toward labor-saving technical change, hardly appropriate for a labor-surplus economy in which small farmers in the former homelands face a chronic scarcity of land.
Thirtle, Townsend, and van Zyl investigate whether factor prices matter in agricultural production and in the selection of production technology. Each stage of the analysis corroborates the inducement hypothesis, which implies that factor prices do matter in agricultural production and in the selection of production technology.
The empirical results also suggest that observed rates and biases of technological change are influenced by average farm size, by spending on research and extension, and by favorable tax and interest-rate policies. In South Africa, the authors contend, more attention should be focused on the technological needs of small-scale farmers. The lobbying power of the large commercial farmers, combined with policies followed under apartheid, must have influenced the allocation of research and development funds between labor- and land-saving technical change. This will have distorted the technological bias toward labor-saving technical change, which is hardly appropriate for a labor-surplus economy in which small farmers in the former homelands face a chronic scarcity of land. These results show that factor prices do matter in agricultural production and the selection of production technology. And there seems to be merit to the World Bank's usual policy prescription - structural adjustment and market liberalization - for economies in which prices are controlled and distorted.
They investigate the role of factor prices by applying cointegration techniques to a model of induced innovation based on the two-stage constant elasticity of substitution production function. This approach results in direct tests of the inducement hypothesis, which are applied to data for South African agriculture for the period 1947-92. They check the time series properties of the variables, establish cointegration, and construct an error correction model (ECM) that allows factor substitution to be separated from technological change. Finally, they subject the ECM formulation to tests of causality, which show that the factor price ratios induce the factor-saving biases of technological change.
This paper - a product of the Office of the Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to design appropriate agricultural policies.
Keywords: Induced Innovation, Cointegration, Error Correction, South Africa
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