Reported rates of return to agricultural R&D are generally high, but they are likely to be biased, particularly because of attribution problems - Mismatching research benefits with costs. The importance of attribution biases is illustrated here with new evidence for Brazil. During 1981-2003, varietal improvements in upland rice, edible beans, and soybeans yielded benefits of $14.8 billion in present value (1999 prices) terms. Attributing all of the benefits to Embrapa, a public research corporation accounting for more than half of Brazil's agricultural R&D spending, the benefit-cost ratio would be 78:1. Under alternative attribution rules, the ratio drops to 16:1.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was conducted for and with the financial support of Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation). The authors obtained generous help from many colleagues in Embrapa and elsewhere, in particular Lídia Pacheco Yokoyama, Mariza Barbosa, Eliseu Alves, Elisio Contini, and Flavio Ávila. The authors also received helpful comments on drafts from the journal reviewers and editors.
- Agricultural R&D
- Benefit-cost ratios