Agricultural productivity and its determinants: revisiting international experiences

  • Claudio Bravo-Ortega
  • Daniel Lederman


This paper makes three contributions to the literature on agricultural productivity.
First, we provide estimates of growth in agriculture’s total factor productivity
(TFP) for a panel of countries using a translog-production function. In
contrast to most of the existing literature, the evidence suggests that agricultural
TFP growth in developing countries has been positive during the past
four decades. Second, the empirical analysis looks at the determinants of agricultural
productivity by controlling for infrastructure and other public goods.
Third, we pay close attention to international heterogeneity with a special focus
on Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. The econometric results
suggest that electricity generating capacity per capita has had positive
effects on agricultural TFP, whereas roads and credit availability have had
negative effects worldwide. Literacy also appears to be important for promoting
agricultural productivity. The regression models also control for climactic
anomalies and coup d’etat, factors that are rarely found in the literature. Finally,
agricultural productivity in LAC countries behaved differently than in
other regions: electricity generation was especially relevant before the 1990s,
as in the rest of the sample, but its effect declined thereafter; paved roads in
LAC appear to influence positively agricultural productivity throughout the
period under investigation (1960-1997).
Keywords Agriculture, Productivity, Regional study
How to Cite
Bravo-Ortega, C., & Lederman, D. (2016). Agricultural productivity and its determinants: revisiting international experiences. Estudios de Economía, 31(2), pp. 133-163. Retrieved from