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Sunk Costs And Resource Mobility: Implications For Economic And Policy Analysis

  • Bradford L. BARHAM


  • Jean-Paul CHAVAS


The implications of sunk costs for many key questions in agricultural economics have yet to be explored. This paper uses a dynamic model of investment behavior to explore how sunk costs can shape market outcomes in ways that might not match predictions of standard competitive models. Applying the model to several key issues in agricultural markets and international trade offers new perspectives that challenge conventional wisdoms. Institutional and policy innovations are also examined for their potential to improve welfare outcomes when sunk costs impede factor mobility.

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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Madison, AAE in its series Staff Papers with number 410.

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Date of creation: Apr 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:wiaesp:410
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University of Wisconsin, Dept. of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 427 Lorch Street, Madison, WI 53706

Phone: 608-262-8966
Fax: 608-262-4376
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  1. Robert S. Pindyck, 1990. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 3307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
  3. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Entry and Exit Decisions under Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 620-38, June.
  4. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474, 01-2013.
  5. Kenneth J. Arrow & Anthony C. Fisher, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-319.
  6. Richard Baldwin & Paul R. Krugman, 1986. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchage Rate Shocks," NBER Working Papers 2017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
  8. Pack, Howard & Westphal, Larry E., 1986. "Industrial strategy and technological change : Theory versus reality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 87-128, June.
  9. James A. Brander & Barbara J. Spencer, 1984. "Export Subsidies and International Market Share Rivalry," NBER Working Papers 1464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Saha Atanu & H. Alan Love & Robert Schwart, 1994. "Adoption of Emerging Technologies Under Output Uncertainty," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 76(4), pages 836-846.
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