Learning about Oneself: Technology Financing in a Tamil Fishing
We study adoption of a costly new technology when the profitability of the new technique differs over individuals and there is uncertainty about these individual-specific differences. We establish that such individual-specific uncertainty results in a financing constraint when debt contracts are characterized by limited liability and limited commitment on the side of the borrower. In data from a Tamil coastal village, in which a new fishing boat became available in 2001, we find significant evidence for individual-specific uncertainty about the profitability of the new technology. Results suggest that this uncertainty reduces the amount of external finance available for the technology switch by 20 percent. The resulting need for complementary self-finance creates a wealth threshold, below which adoption, even if profitable, is not feasible. Kuznets-type inequality dynamics result on the middle run.
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