The Diffusion of the Tractor in American Agriculture: 1910-60
50 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2000 Last revised: 23 Jun 2012
Date Written: October 2000
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.
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