New Economics Papers
on Agricultural Economics
Issue of 2010‒05‒15
eight papers chosen by

  1. Has food price volatility risen? By Christopher Gilbert; Wyn Morgan
  2. Terms of trade of agricultural and food products, 1951‐2000 By Raúl Serrano; Vicente Pinilla
  3. Sustainable Agriculture: A Way Out of Food Poverty By Tuya Altangerel; Fernando Henao
  4. Tainted Food, Low-Quality Products and Trade By Jean-Marie Viaene; Laixun Zhao
  5. Mercury advisories and household health trade-offs By Shimshack, Jay P.; Ward, Michael B.
  6. Taxation and the Extraction of Exhaustible Resources: Evidence From California Oil Production By Nirupama S. Rao
  7. Is multivariate probit really useless in analysing off-farm labour participation of farm couples? A note By Alessandro Corsi; Cristina Salvioni
  8. Low-Cost Technologies Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: The Case of Rainwater Harvesting By Christian Lehmann; Raquel Tsukada; Acácio Lourete

  1. By: Christopher Gilbert; Wyn Morgan
    Abstract: The high food prices experienced over recent years have led to the widespread view that food price volatility has increased. However, volatility has generally been lower over the two most recent decades than previously. Variability over the most recent period has been high but, with the important exception of rice, not out of line with historical experience. There is weak evidence that the volatility of grains and vegetable oils prices may be increasing but it is too early to make a definite statement. Important open issues remain with respect to biofuels, climate change and the possible effects of the financialization of agricultural food markets
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Raúl Serrano (Department of Business Administration, Facutad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Zaragoza); Vicente Pinilla (Department of Applied Economics, Facutad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Zaragoza)
    Abstract: This paper focuses on analysing the evolution of the terms of trade of products in the agricultural and food trade in the second half of 20th century. We have compiled 56 new price indices for internationally‐traded agricultural products. Furthermore, in order to obtain real prices, the agricultural price series have been deflated by an international trade price index that includes major changes in the prices of not only manufactured goods, but also other commodities, such as energy products, which have had so much influence on the shocks occurring in the period. Another feature of this work is the use of a new time series method. We shall analyse the presence of two structural breaks in non‐stationary series, as well as establishing the years of structural break endogenously. Our aim is to characterise the distinct trends of the groups of products by determining which groups experienced the greatest decline, and the possible causes, both economic and institutional
    Keywords: Singer‐Prebish Hypothesis, terms of trade, agricultural and food trade, agricultural prices
    JEL: F14 N50 N70 Q17
    Date: 2010–04
  3. By: Tuya Altangerel (Poverty Practice, UNDP Bureau for Development Policy); Fernando Henao (New York University)
    Abstract: The most fundamental human right is the right to food (UN General Assembly, 2002). Proper nutritious food is the precondition for normal human development. Well-nourished children are more likely to succeed in learning and are less susceptible to diseases. But low-income, food-importing economies are facing increasing difficulties in accessing staple food items. Chronic food insecurity persists, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The recent economic crisis drove more than 100 million people into hunger in 2008 alone. Is sustainable agriculture a solution?
    Keywords: Sustainable Agriculture: A Way Out of Food Poverty
    Date: 2010–02
  4. By: Jean-Marie Viaene (Erasmus University Rotterdam, and CESifo); Laixun Zhao (Kobe University)
    Abstract: This paper examines international trade in tainted food and other low-quality products. We
    Keywords: asymmetric information; experience good; product differentiation; sabotage; tainting; testing errors; trade
    JEL: D43 F12 F13 I12
    Date: 2010–01–04
  5. By: Shimshack, Jay P.; Ward, Michael B.
    Abstract: The conventional economic wisdom is that improving consumer information will enhance welfare. Yet, some scientists speculate that the Food and Drug Administration's prominent 2001 mercury in fish advisory may have harmed public health. Lower mercury intakes reduce neurological toxicity risks. However, since seafood is the predominant dietary source of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, reduced fish consumption may have significant offsetting health impacts. We explore this risk trade-off using a rich panel of household-level seafood consumption data. To control for confounding factors, we use a non-parametric changes-in-changes approach. We find strong evidence that while the advisory reduced mercury loadings, it did so at the expense of substantial reductions in healthful omega-3s. We find this response pattern even for consumers with low fish consumption. Using advisory response patterns as inputs into a prominent risk assessment model, the central estimate is that net benefits from the advisory were negative.
    Keywords: food safety; mercury; fish; omega-3 fatty acids; advisory; public health; health information
    JEL: D12 I18 Q53
    Date: 2010–04
  6. By: Nirupama S. Rao
    Abstract: Rapid increases in oil prices in 2008 led some to call for special taxes on the oil industry. Because oil is an exhaustible resource, however, the effects of excise taxes on production or on reported producer profits may be more complex than in many other markets. This paper uses well-level production data on California oil wells for the period 1977-2008, along with the rich variation in producer prices induced by federal oil taxes and pre-1980 price controls, to estimate how temporary taxes affect oil production decisions. Theory suggests that temporary taxes could lead producers to shut wells, and more generally that they create strong incentives for retiming production to minimize tax burdens. The empirical estimates suggest small estimates of extensive responses to after-tax prices, meaning that wells are rarely shut, but they also suggest substantial retiming of production for operating wells. While the estimates vary with specifications, the elasticity of oil production with respect to the after-tax price is estimated to fall between 0.208 and 0.261. The estimates are used to calibrate a simple model of the efficiency cost of tax-induced distortions relative to the no-tax optimal extraction path. These calculations suggest that a 15 percent temporary excise tax on California oil producers reduces the present value of producer surplus by between one and five percent of the no-tax surplus or between 113 and 166 percent of the government revenue raised, depending on the original life of the well and the duration of the temporary tax.
    Date: 2010–04
  7. By: Alessandro Corsi; Cristina Salvioni
    Abstract: In a recent paper, Benjamin and Kimhi (2006) argued that using multivariate probit for analysing off-farm participation of farm couples suffers from a theoretical inconsistency. This note tries to clarify this issue, and illustrates the joint participation rules based on reservation wages of household members. The reservation wages of each household member is contingent on the participation status of the other member. Hence, participation rules have to keep into account the joint participation probabilities of the couple.
    Keywords: off-farm labour participation, farm household, multivariate probit
    JEL: J22 J43 Q12
    Date: 2010–01
  8. By: Christian Lehmann (International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth); Raquel Tsukada (International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth); Acácio Lourete (International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth)
    Abstract: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remains a daunting challenge for many countries in the face of small state budgets and limited donor support. This Policy Research Brief highlights the contribution of a low-cost water supply strategy to a number of MDGs. It also discusses innovative financing schemes to scale up the implementation of such strategies.
    Keywords: Low-Cost Technologies Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: The Case of Rainwater Harvesting
    Date: 2010–02

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.