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Policy dependency and reform: economic gains versus political pains

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor David Harvey


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Economic analysis condemns market intervention in favour of farmers as inefficient and ineffective, and therefore worthy of radical reform. Practical experience, however, indicates that such lessons are hard to learn and implement. Economic analysis tends to ignore the path dependencies generated by the policy evolution process. Without reform strategies that take full account of these dependencies, policy reform will continue to be reluctant, slow and frequently counterproductive. This paper reconsiders the evolution of farm policies and the economic assessment of their costs and benefits. In so doing, it re-phrases conventional economic arguments in terms which seem to accord better with sensible intuition, which may prove more accessible and credible to policyrnakers and advisors. The difficulties of reconciling economic efficiency with political acceptability are identified. The paper concludes with a substantial challenge to the agricultural economics profession. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harvey DR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Agricultural Economics

Year: 2004

Volume: 31

Issue: 2-3

Pages: 265-275

ISSN (print): 0169-5150

ISSN (electronic): 1574-0862

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-0862.2004.tb00263.x


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