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Hog-Round Marketing, Seed Quality, and Government Policy: Institutional Change in U.S. Cotton Production, 1920 1960

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  • OLMSTEAD, ALAN L.
  • RHODE, PAUL W.

Abstract

Between 1928 and 1960 U.S. cotton production witnessed a revolution with average yields roughly tripling while the quality of the crop increased significantly. This paper analyzes the key institutional and scientific developments that facilitated the revolution in biological technologies, pointing to the importance of two government programs -- the one-variety community movement and the Smith-Doxey Act -- as catalysts for change. The story displays two phenomena of interest in light of the recent literature: 1. an important real-world example of the workings of Akerlof's lemons model and 2. a case where inventors, during an early phase of the product cycle, actually encouraged consumers to copy and disseminate their intellectual property.
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Suggested Citation

  • Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2003. "Hog-Round Marketing, Seed Quality, and Government Policy: Institutional Change in U.S. Cotton Production, 1920 1960," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 447-488, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:63:y:2003:i:02:p:447-488_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Musoke, Moses S. & Olmstead, Alan L., 1982. "The Rise of the Cotton Industry in California: A Comparative Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(02), pages 385-412, June.
    2. Simpson, D.M., 1954. "Natural Cross-Pollination in Cotton," Technical Bulletins 156667, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Whatley, Warren C., 1983. "Labor for the Picking: the New Deal in the South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 905-929, December.
    4. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-332, April.
    5. Simpson, D.M., 1954. "Natural Cross-Pollination in Cotton," Technical Bulletins 156738, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    7. Howell, L. D. & Watson, Leonard J., 1939. "Cotton Prices in Relation to Cotton Classification Service and to Quality Improvement," Technical Bulletins 168475, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    8. Constantine, John H & Alston, Julian M & Smith, Vincent H, 1994. "Economic Impacts of the California One-Variety Cotton Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 951-974, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brunt, Liam & Cannon, Edmund, 2015. "Variations in the price and quality of English grain, 1750–1914: Quantitative evidence and empirical implications," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 74-92.
    2. McQuade, Timothy & Salant, Stephen W. & Winfree, Jason, 2009. "Markets with untraceable goods of unknown quality: a market failure exacerbated by globalization," MPRA Paper 21874, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. MacDonald, Stephen & Naik, Gopal & Landes, Rip, 2010. "Markets, Institutions, and the Quality of Agricultural Products: Cotton Quality in India," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61854, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Isengildina-Massa, Olga & MacDonald, Stephen, 2009. "U.S. Cotton Prices and the World Cotton Market: Forecasting and Structural Change," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49324, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    JEL classification:

    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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