Drawing upon cross-country panel data for developing countries, the present study shows that agricultural growth is the most important factor in reducing inequality and poverty, and growth acceleration. This is in striking contrast to the dominant view that urbanization is key to growth and elimination of extreme poverty. There is thus a case for a drastic shift away from rural–urban migration and urbanization as main drivers of growth and elimination of extreme poverty, and towards revival of agriculture in the policy discourse that should drive the advancement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Barro, Robert J. and Jong-Wha Lee (2010) ‘A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World, 1950–2010’, NBER Working Paper No. 15902. Cambridge, MA: NBER.
Blundell, Richard and Stephen Bond (1998) ‘Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models’, Journal of Econometrics 87(1): 115-143.
Christiaensen, Luc, Lionel Demery and Jesper Kühl (2011) ‘The (Evolving) Role of Agriculture in Poverty Reduction: An Empirical Perspective’, Journal of Development Economics 96(2): 239–254.
Christiaensen, Luc and Yasuyuki Todo (2014) ‘Poverty Reduction During the Rural-Urban Transformation –The Role of the Missing Middle’, World Development 63: 43–58.
Collier, Paul and Stefan Dercon (2014) ‘African Agriculture in 50 years: Smallholders in a Rapidly Changing World?’, World Development 63: 92–101.
Deininger, Klaus and Lyn Squire (1998) ‘New Ways of Looking at Old Issues: Inequality and Growth’, Journal of Development Economics 57(2): 259–287.
Doyle, Michael W. and Joseph E. Stiglitz (2014) Eliminating Extreme Inequality: A Sustainable Development Goal, 2015–2030, New York: UN Roundtable on ‘The Treat of Growing Inequalities’, 20 January 2014.
Herzer, Dierk and Sebastian Vollmer (2012) ‘Inequality and Growth: Evidence from Panel Cointegration’, Journal of Economic Inequality 10(4): 489–503.
Imai, Katsushi S. and Raghav Gaiha (2014) ‘Dynamic and Long-Term Linkages Among Growth, Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries’, DP2014-33, Japan: Kobe University.
Imai, Katsushi S., Raghav Gaiha and Alessandra Garbero (2014) ‘Poverty Reduction during the Rural-Urban Transformation: Rural Development is still more important than Urbanisation?’ BWPI Working Paper, WP204/2014.
Thapa, Ganesh and Raghav Gaiha (2014) ‘Smallholder Farming in Asia and the Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities’, in Peter B. R. Hazell and Atiqur Rahman (eds.) New Directions in Smallholder Agriculture. Oxford: Oxford University Press & International Fund for Agricultural Development.
United Nations (2013) Inequality Matters, Report on the World Social Situation 2013. New York: United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/publications/world-social-situation-2013.html.
World Bank (2013a) Global Monitoring Report 2013: Monitoring the MDGs. Washington, DC: World Bank.
World Bank (2013b) World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: World Bank.
We are grateful to Thomas Elhaut, Constanza Di Nucci and Alessandra Garbero at IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) for their enthusiastic support and guidance throughout this study and for their insistence on highest standards of analytical rigour. The views expressed are personal and not necessarily of the organizations to which we are affiliated or of IFAD.
About this article
Cite this article
Imai, K.S., Cheng, W. & Gaiha, R. Agricultural Growth, Poverty and Inequality in Developing Countries. Development 58, 230–236 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41301-016-0009-1