The paper tests for external effects of local economic activity on consumption and income growth at the farm-household level using panel data from four provinces of post-reform rural China. The tests allow for nonstationary fixed effects in the consumption growth process. Evidence is found of geographic externalities, stemming from spillover effects of the level and composition of local economic activity and private returns to local human and physical infrastructure endowments. The results suggest an explanation for rural underdevelopment arising from under-investment in certain externality-generating activities, of which agricultural development emerges as the most important. Key words: Consumption growth, income growth, externalities, panel data, rural China JEL classification: D91, R11, Q12 World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2879, August 2002 The Policy Research Working Paper Series disseminates the findings of work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues. An objective of the series is to get the findings out quickly, even if the presentations are less than fully polished. The papers carry the names of the authors and should be cited accordingly. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the view of the World Bank, its Executive Directors, or the countries they represent. Policy Research Working Papers are available online at http://econ.worldbank.org
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