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An Empirical Test of Utility vs. Profit Maximization in Agricultural Production


  • William Lin
  • G. W. Dean
  • C. V. Moore


Production economics literature contains many studies which assume that the producer's goal is to maximize profits. This study tests the hypothesis that Bernoullian and lexicographic utility are more accurate predictors of farmer behavior than profit maximization. Six large California farms were used to test the hypothesis. After-income tax E-V (expectation-variance) boundaries were developed for each farm and utility, and profit maximizing crop plans were determined for each. A goodness-of-fit criterion showed that Bernoullian utility formulations provided the greatest accuracy in predicting actual and planned crop patterns, followed by the lexicographic formulation. Profit maximization showed the poorest predictive power.

Suggested Citation

  • William Lin & G. W. Dean & C. V. Moore, 1974. "An Empirical Test of Utility vs. Profit Maximization in Agricultural Production," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 56(3), pages 497-508.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:56:y:1974:i:3:p:497-508.

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