The Agrarian Origins of Economic Growth of Nations Grant uri icon


  • This project is designed to increase the rates of economic growth in poor nations and reduce levels of global poverty by using historical evidence to document the strategies of growth that were actually used by successful economic developers in earlier historical periods. Most successful developers, notably the U.S., Canada, Australia, Switzerland, France and Scandinavia, achieved their success on the basis of robust agriculture. A critical component of robust agriculture is improving product quality but, to date, quality has been measured through the volume or quantity of agricultural goods exported by any given nation. We examine the agrarian path to growth by statistical analysis of economic development in the nations of the world 1870-1950. We include a new measure of excellence in agriculture, approval ratings of a nation''s products by experts on food such as gourmets and home economists. We use a content analysis of shoppers'' guides and cookbooks in five nations (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy) to obtain statistical indicators of whether nations are viewed as having superior or inferior products. We then correlate these excellence measures with both agricultural trade patterns and economic growth. Agricultural excellence is in turn correlated with other measures of social structure such as land tenure patterns and education levels. The overall goal of the project is to assess the role that agricultural product quality had in promoting economic growth in advanced nations with the hope of helping other nations develop successful institutions for converting their own agricultural sectors into engines for long-term, sustainable growth.

date/time interval

  • 2015 - 2017