Friday, January 4, 2013

Who says gaps are closing?

I just wrote about the distribution of wealth in the world. Below you can see the development of agriculture value added per worker. As you can see the gap between the rich countries and the poor countries is increasing a lot. Not even China has kept pace in agriculture productivity with the OECD countries. It has indeed increased value added per worker three times in thirty years, but France increased it 5.5 times in the same period. In Africa it was more or less constant for thirty years.

The development is perhaps better visible in a logarithmic diagram:

Apart from debunking the myth that "business-as-usual" will help the poor, it also puts into question who is benefiting from the increased global competition in agriculture commodities.

Agriculture value added per worker is a measure of agricultural productivity. Value added in agriculture measures the output of the agricultural sector (ISIC divisions 1-5) less the value of intermediate inputs. Agriculture comprises value added from forestry, hunting, and fishing as well as cultivation of crops and livestock production. Data are in constant 2000 U.S. dollars.

Looking at yield per hectare the picture is not as straight-forward. But then again, yield per hectare has never been a strong indicator of development, even if some agronomists are obsessed by it. 
Check here how it looks at Gapminder 

Read also: 

Stop pretending there are only winners in the global market

Agriculture: How cheap energy (and capitalism) increased the gaps between rich and poor


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