progress

Peasants are a vanishing breed

In the last 50 years or so, agriculture’s share of the labor force in developing countries has shrunk from 76 per cent to 37 per cent. This is where the USA was in 1900 and France in 1940. It varies a lot from one country to then next. China has gone from 83 to 37 per cent, India 74 to 51 per cent, Turkey 79 to 24 per cent, Mexico 55 to 13 percent. Latin America as a whole has gone from 49 to 15 per cent which is where Italy was in 1980 and the USA in 1945. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the most sluggish. There has been a decline. However, they are still a majority – 80 down to 60 per cent. This is where France was at the time of the French Revolution and the USA in 1840.

This massive decline in the importance of self employed peasants is a clear sign of economic development and of the uprooting of the old social and economic conditions. Many ex-peasants are swelling the ranks of the proletariat, and that can only be good.

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