, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 269-302
Date: 04 Jan 2011

Novel indicators of the trade and welfare effects of agricultural distortions in OECD countries

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Abstract

Agricultural markets in OECD countries have long been highly distorted by government policies. Traditional weighted average aggregates of the price distortions involved, such as producer and consumer support estimates (PSEs and CSEs), can be poor indicators of the trade restrictiveness and economic welfare losses associated with them, especially if a country’s support estimates vary a lot across the product range. Certainly estimates of trade and welfare effects of price supports can be obtained from sectoral or economywide models using price elasticity estimates, but the results can be contentious if there is no consensus on what model specification and elasticity parameters to use. This paper shows that, if there is a willingness to accept simple assumptions about elasticities, it is possible to generate indicators of the welfare and trade restrictiveness of agricultural policies using no more than the price and quantity data needed to generate PSEs and CSEs. These new indexes thus provide an attractive supplement to the current policy monitoring regime developed by the OECD Secretariat.

This is a product of a World Bank research project on Distortions to Agricultural Incentives (see http://www.worldbank.org/agdistortions).
Views expressed are the authors’ alone and not necessarily those of the World Bank or its Executive Directors.