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Journal of Economic Integration 2007 September;22(3) :461-481.
Endogenous Effort and Intersectoral Labour Transfers Under Industrialization

Madanmohan Ghosh John Whalley 

University of Western Ontario and Finance, Canada
University of Western Ontario and NBER
Copyright ©2007 Journal of Economic Integration

This paper takes as its point of departure the claim in the literature that strong Asian growth performance is accounted for largely by the accumulation of factor inputs (financial savings and human capital accumulation). This stands in sharp contrast to Polanyi's (1944) interpretation of European growth being a "great transformation" from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Our objective is to find models in which intersectoral transfers in Asia do account for significant portions of observed growth performance, besides factor input growth and residually calculated productivity growth. We begin with traditional Lewis models, where an efficiency gain results from transferring labour from the traditional (family based) agricultural sector, in which labour receives its average product, to the modern (industrial) sector in which labourers are paid their marginal product. We show that as one moves closer to Pareto Optimality in this system (say by taxing the traditional sector's output), there is a gain but this is typically small. We then formulate Lewis type models in which the product of effort and labour enters each sector's production function, and individuals in the traditional sector only receive a fraction of the return to their incremental effort due to average product pricing of labour. In this case, the level of effort in each sector, is endogenously determined along with the intersectoral allocation of labour, since the representative household is modeled as having a utility function defined over goods along with the disutility of effort. Differences in effort levels across sectors support accompanying differences in average and marginal products of labour. We use this model to analyze growth processes in Thailand and South Korea over the period between the 1960s and 1990s. Results suggest significant contributions to growth from intersectoral labour transfers in Lewis models with endogenous effort, and negligible contributions from models without endogenous effort.

JEL classification: O410, O470, O570

Keywords: Endogenous effort | Labour transfers and growth
1. Bonin, John, P. (1977) "Work Incentives and Uncertainty on a Collective Farm", Journal of Comparative Economics, March, Vol. 1, pp 77-97.
2. Boswerth, Derek, L (1976) Production Functions: A Theoretical and Empirical Study, Saxon House, Lexington Books.
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