1.华南农业大学 经济管理学院;2.华南农业大学 国家农业制度与发展研究院
1.South China Agricultural University College of Economics and Management;2.South China Agricultural University National School of Agricultural Institution and Development
Traditional theories in agricultural economics generally assume there is a constant return to scale in agriculture. Such an assumption is not only inconsistent with the concept of the endogenous technical change and the “learn by doing” models in neoclassical economics, but also can’t explain the agricultural growth caused by the intensive and meticulous farming practices in traditional peasant economy and the division of labor in modern agriculture. By expanding the “learn by doing” models developed by Arrow (1962) and Yang and Ng (1993), we analyzes how farmers can exercise their “learning by doing” to achieving the increasing return to scale by adjusting the planting structure and agricultural inputs in a traditional peasant economy and an era of agricultural division of labor without account of external technical change. The analytical results indicate that (1) without rigid constraint in agricultural labor, the “learning by doing” will improve labor productivity and increase return to scale through the expansion in the farming scale by renting more farmland or the increases in cropping index to fully use the excessive agricultural labor; (2) with rigid constraint in agricultural labor due to the labor migration from agricultural to non-agricultural sectors, the return to scale in agriculture can become decreasing after the increase induced by the learning by doing; (3) the division of labor in agriculture helps overcome the rigid constraint of agricultural labor and stimulates labor specialization and “learning by doing” that lead to the increasing return to scale in agriculture. The findings show that agriculture has never been a passive industry with low efficiency, but evolving industry with constant pursue of efficiency and growth.