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The diffusion of the tractor in American Agriculture: 1910-1960

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  • Alan L. Olmstead
  • Paul W. Rhode

Abstract

This paper examines the impact and diffusion of the gasoline tractor in American agriculture. A key feature of the transition from horses to tractors was a long intermediate stage when both modes of power were used on the same farm. This is largely explained in the technical limitations of early tractors. In addition, we explore how rural markets and institutions adjusted to facilitate diffusion. Our simultaneous-equation regression analysis reveals that farm scale and tractor adoption had positive, independent effects on each other. Finally, we analyze diffusion as a capital replacement problem, which reveals that the shift to the new technology came far sooner than has generally been thought.

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File URL: http://www.icer.it/docs/wp2000/Olmstead132000.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ICER - International Centre for Economic Research in its series ICER Working Papers with number 13-2000.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:13-2000

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  1. Whatley, Warren C., 1984. "Institutional Change and Mechanization in the Cotton South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 614-616, June.
  2. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 1995. "Beyond the Threshold: An Analysis of the Characteristics and Behavior of Early Reaper Adopters," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 27-57, March.
  3. Reynoldson, L. A. & Humphries, W. R. & Speelman, S. R. & McComas, E. W. & Youngman, W. H., 1933. "Utilization and Cost of Power on Corn Belt Farms," Technical Bulletins 163614, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  4. Abel, Andrew B., 1990. "Consumption and investment," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 725-778 Elsevier.
  5. Balke, Nathan S & Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "The Estimation of Prewar Gross National Product: Methodology and New Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 38-92, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Jeanne Lafortune & José Tessada & Carolina González-Velosa, 2013. "More Hands, More Power? Estimating the Impact of Immigration on Output and Technology Choices Using Early 20th Century US Agriculture," Documentos de Trabajo 431, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..

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