Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Thomas W. Hertel

Committee Chair

Thomas W. Hertel

Committee Member 1

Raymond J.G.M. Florax

Committee Member 2

Nelson B. Villoria

Committee Member 3

Hao Zhang


This dissertation aims to explore the current trends in agricultural productivity and analyse its impact on the global farm and food system. Chapter 2 in this dissertation looks at the current trends in agricultural productivity in India—one most of the populous country in the world. In this chapter, productivity trends in Indian agriculture are examined by looking at changes in Total Factor Productivity—a measure which takes into account all farm outputs and inputs. Estimates in this chapter suggest that TFP growth for the 10-year period—between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010—steadily grew at the national level. Looking at the 5-year estimates, TFP growth in the early 2000s was sluggish but this poor performance was offset by sharp growth in the late 2000s. ^ Developments at global scale ultimately affect world food production and prices. This dissertation develops a new framework for the analysis of productivity, prices, nutrition and land use in the context of a global economy. Nick-named SIMPLE, this model forms the basis for Chapters 3 and 4. In Chapter 3, projections from the SIMPLE model are validated against actual changes in key agricultural variables during the historical period 1961-2006. Given observed growths in population, incomes and total factor productivity, SIMPLE can successfully replicate historical changes in global crop production, cropland use, global crop yield and price. In Chapter 4, the implications of productivity growth for future global food security are examined using a module which calculates the headcount, prevalence and average depth of malnutrition by looking at the changes in average caloric consumption. Going forward to 2050, population growth is projected to slow down while biofuel use, per capita incomes and agricultural productivity are expected rise steadily. If TFP growth stagnates, nutritional outcomes would likely worsen, with virtually no reduction in the global headcount of malnourished persons over the 2006-2050 period. Climate change will also have significant implications for nutritional outcomes in hunger stricken regions of the world. Lastly, Chapter 5 outlines the scope for future work and identifies key areas for improvements regarding the studies documented in this dissertation.