Lexicographic Wants in LDC Agriculture

In relation to the economic analysis of decision making on small farms in less developed countries (LDCs), two issues are examined-the irreducibility of wants and the social context of the decision maker. The purpose is to show that, by ignoring these issues, the agr1cultural economics discipline could, in many instances, be overlooking significant relationships in the appraisal of rural development policy. Irreducibility of wants means, m the jargon of economic theory, that overall indifference across product space in individual preference arrangements 1s lacking. The implication of irreducibility is that wants must be ordered lexicographically. When wants are ordered m such a manner, the social context of the decision maker becomes paramount. An investigation of the methods of other disciplines shows that the lexicographic system of ordering is m strong accord with the approaches that sociologists, human psychologists, and economic anthropologists take to analyzing small farm decision making m LDCs. Indeed, by being unconstrained by the continuous preference function system of neoclassical economics, those disciplines appear to have the potential of examinmg much more fertile ground in showing what actually promotes rural development.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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