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Agriculture in the World Economy: an Historical Geography of Decline

David Grigg
Geography
Vol. 77, No. 3 (July 1992), pp. 210-222
Published by: Geographical Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40572192
Page Count: 13
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Agriculture in the World Economy: an Historical Geography of Decline
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Abstract

This paper traces the decline of the relative importance of agriculture in the economy. This occurs because of the greater rate of growth of industry and services. The importance of agriculture is measured as a percentage of total employment and of the Gross Domestic Product. Agriculture is shown to have employed 70-80 per cent of the labour force and generated 40-60 per cent of the income in pre-industrial societies, but has since continuously declined. The decline is a consequence of industrialisation and there have been marked regional differences in the date at which decline commenced. Thus the agricultural workforce fell below 50 per cent of the total in Britain in the 1730s but nowhere else until the 1840s and has still not fallen below 50 per cent in most of Africa and Asia. The fall of the Agricultural Domestic Product follows the same sequence, beginning first in Western Europe and European settled areas overseas, and then in Latin America and most recently the oil producers of the Middle East.

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