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Varying-Parameter Supply Functions and the Sources of Economic Distress in American Agriculture, 1866-1914


  • Thomas F. Cooley
  • Steven J. DeCanio


The agrarian unrest in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century is examined. This unrest is often viewed as stemming from the inability of farmers to adapt to changing conditions in world agriculture. This hypothesis is tested in the context of a distributed lag supply function. Varying parameter estimation methods are used to trace the history of the parameters in the supply function and to decompose observed prices into permanent and transitory components over time. The patterns of variation are tested for conformity with a model of rational price-expectation formation. The conclusion is that farmers behaved as economic theory would predict, but that neither theory nor practice gave them relief from the troubles which plagued them.

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  • Thomas F. Cooley & Steven J. DeCanio, 1974. "Varying-Parameter Supply Functions and the Sources of Economic Distress in American Agriculture, 1866-1914," NBER Working Papers 0057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0057

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooley, Thomas F & Prescott, Edward C, 1973. "Tests of an Adaptive Regression Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(2), pages 248-256, May.
    2. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "Cotton Competition and the Post-Bellum Recovery of the American South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 610-635, September.
    3. Vahid F. Nowshirvani, 1971. "A Modified Adaptive Expectations Model," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 53(1), pages 116-119.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2005. "History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 199-215, Summer.
    2. Various, 1975. "Staff Reports on Research Under Way," NBER Chapters, in: Understanding Economic Change, pages 9-120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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