Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - 114th EAAE Seminar 2010

Background and Objectives

It is well known that agricultural sectors in developed countries undergo a far-reaching structural change which is driven by technological change, globalization, new societal demands, and a paradigm shift in agricultural policy. Though structural change is a traditional topic in agricultural economics and a vast literature already exists, it seems promising to reconsider this problem for several reasons. From a methodological viewpoint, many challenges remain.  The lack of a comprehensive theory of structural change, a behavioral foundation of farmers’ decision making, aggregation and endogeneity issues in farm and sector models, or the proper extraction of policy impacts in econometric analyses are only a few of the unsolved problems. However, the development of sophisticated tools for analyzing structural change is not an end in itself, but contributes to the discussion of current problems in agricultural economics. Among them are the conflicts between food and energy production, increasing price volatility on agricultural product and input markets, regional concentration of livestock production, and the unequal market power in value chains.

The seminar takes a fresh look at structural changes of agricultural sectors in developed economies. Structural change is understood in a broad sense. It goes far beyond the change of the number and size of farms and encompasses, for example, changes of production type and structures, technological and institutional changes as well as the dynamics of transactions within food chains with relevance for the structure of the farms. The objective of this seminar is to gain a deeper understanding of the adjustment processes that take place in agriculture. This requires an identification of causalities between exogenous factors, political intervention and farmers’ decision making. Such knowledge is an essential precondition to predict and to govern structural change in terms of economic, environmental, and social objectives. The focus of the seminar is on theoretical models and quantitative methods supporting the analysis of structural change.

The seminar intends to discuss and to analyze the state-of-the art in research methods for economic analysis of structural change in agriculture. It offers a platform to exchange ideas and to generate an integrated view of structural adjustments in agriculture. As current topics of agricultural policy shall be addressed, the seminar is not only relevant for a scientific community but also for decision makers in politics and administration.