Generation and Distribution of Productivity Gains in French Agriculture. Who are the Winners and the Losers over the Last Fifty Years?

Jean-Philippe BOUSSEMART, Jean-Pierre BUTAULT, Oluwaseun OJO


This paper offers an approach based on the economic theory of index numbers that revisitsthe classical surplus accounting technique. We measure the productivity gains and the combinedeffects of output and input price variation on French farmers’ income between 1959 and 2011, for thewhole agricultural sector. During this period, total factor productivity grows at an average annual rateof 1.4% mainly due to a decrease of input quantity over the last thirty years while output volume hasstagnated since the end of the nineties. Over the whole period, with a share of nearly 70% of the globalsurplus, the customers appear as the main beneficiaries of these productivity gains through a decreasein agricultural and food prices. Farmers only retained 23% of the surplus corresponding to a lowincrease in farm income. Finally, the suppliers and taxpayers are the losers in the surplus distributionvia respectively a significant decrease of relative intermediate input prices and a substantial growth ofpublic subsidies in favour of the agricultural sector.


index numbers, total factor productivity, factor income distribution, agricultural and food policy

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