Varying-Parameter Supply Functions and the Sources of Economic Distress in American Agriculture, 1866-1914
69 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2001 Last revised: 30 Aug 2010
Date Written: September 1974
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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