Economics : The rate of growth of agricultural output has increased

Subject: Economics    / General Economics
Question

1. The rate of growth of agricultural output has increased over time, providing a rising level and an improved quality of nutrition to a growing human population, particularly in the last 200 years.

i) What are the main factors that have allowed agricultural production to increase over time? List at least 6.

ii) Briefly explain the role of three of the main factors in facilitating higher agricultural production over time. If possible, point to interactions among them.

iii) Of these six factors, which have required significant government intervention to succeed?

iv) Which of six factors are not likely to play an important role in future increases in agricultural output? Why? Are there other factors that could assume an important role in the future?

2. Research and development can produce new technology that, once applied, allows new products and more efficient production processes.

i) Explain the market failure that inhibits a completely free market economy from undertaking the optimal amount of research? Why is government intervention necessary to maintain a high level of technical change? Use a graph as necessary.

ii) List and briefly explain the three general mechanisms that are most commonly used by governments to encourage research and development and thus spur the rate of technical change.

iii) Identify at least one problem with the “solutions” usually used.

3. You work for an NGO that is analyzing factors influencing population growth rates in Africa.

i) Using the demographic information provided for the following set of countries, calculate the current population growth rate (PGR) for each country. TFR = total fertility rate.(Hint: PGR = Birth rate – Death rate)

Country Birth rate Death Rate TFR % Women using Female Literacy PGR

Contraception (age 15-24)

Botswana 24 13 2.8 53 97 ____

Chad 45 16 6.0 5 41 ____

Ghana 32 8 4.2 24 80 ____

Kenya 38 11 4.7 46 94 ____

Senegal 37 9 4.8 12 56 ____

South Africa 21 15 2.5 60 98 ____

Uganda 45 12 6.1 41 85 ____

Zambia 46 16 6.3 41 67 ____

ii) Plot the relationships between TFR and the Death Rate, % Women using Contraception, Female Literacy and PGR. Thus, TFR is related to four different variables. You can plot these relationships in one graph or four separate graphs.

iii) Does the level of contraception being practiced seem to influence the fertility rate?

iv) In which countries does contraception do a poor job of predicting the fertility rate?

v) What do you think might explain this phenomenon?

vi) Does the level of female literacy seem to influence the fertility rate?

vii) What well-known factor might help explain the rather large variation in death rates?

viii) Does the death rate help explain the fertility rate?

ix) Do you think the level of per capita income (not shown) might help explain the TFR, quite apart from income’s indirect effect on contraception and literacy? Explain.