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The Diffusion of the Tractor in American Agriculture: 1910-60

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Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2000. "The Diffusion of the Tractor in American Agriculture: 1910-60," NBER Working Papers 7947, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7947 Note: DAE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7947.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Reynoldson, L. A. & Humphries, W. R. & Speelman, S. R. & McComas, Earl 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan Skinner & Douglas Staiger, 2007. "Technology Adoption from Hybrid Corn to Beta-Blockers," NBER Chapters,in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 545-570 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N52 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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