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Research Lags Revisited: Concepts and Evidence from U.S. Agriculture

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  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Ruttan, Vernon W.

Abstract

Many researchers and commentators underestimate the length and importance of the time lags between initial research investment and ultimate impacts on the development and adoption of technological innovations. In both econometric studies of productivity and ex post and ex ante benefit-cost evaluations of research investments, researchers typically impose untested assumptions about the R&D lag, which can have profound implications for the results. In this paper we present a range of evidence on agricultural R&D lags including both aggregative analysis of U.S. agricultural productivity using time series data, and some specific details on the timelines for the research, development, and adoption processes for particular mechanical and biological innovations in U.S. agriculture. The aggregative analysis makes use of a comparatively rich state-level data set on U.S. agriculture that makes it possible to test hypotheses about the R&D lag and to evaluate the implications for the specification of models of production and for findings regarding the rate of return to public research investments. The results support the use of a longer lag with a different shape than is typically imposed in studies of industrial R&D. These findings are supported by the timelines for specific technological innovations, including new crop varieties, as well as tractors and other mechanical innovations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 50091.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ags:umaesp:50091

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Keywords: Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

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References

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  1. Olmstead,Alan L. & Rhode,Paul W., 2008. "Creating Abundance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521857116, 9.
  2. Bronwyn H. HALL, 2005. "Measuring the Returns to R&D: the Depreciation Problem," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 79-80, pages 341-381.
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  15. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2001. "Attribution and other problems in assessing the returns to agricultural R&D," Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 25(2-3), September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rao, Xudong & Hurley, Terrance M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2012. "Recalibrating the Reported Rates of Return to Food and Agricultural R&D," Staff Papers, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics 135018, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  2. Hertel, Thomas W., 2013. "Land, environment and climate: Contributing to the global public good," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Guettler, Stefan & Seidel-Lass, Linda & Mueller, Rolf A.E., 2012. "Simulating the spillover benefits from R&D by a small producer country embedded in a co-authorship network: Aquaculture R&D in Germany," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, International Association of Agricultural Economists 122885, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  4. Guettler, Stefan & Seidel-Lass, Linda & Mueller, Rolf A.E., 2011. "Simulating the Spillover Benefits from R&D by a small producer country embedded in a Network: Aquaculture R&D in Germany," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland, European Association of Agricultural Economists 114589, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

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