Unpacking the Agricultural Black Box: The Rise and Fall of American Farm Productivity Growth

Philip G. Pardey, Julian M. Alston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Has the golden age of U.S. agricultural productivity growth ended? We analyze the detailed patterns of productivity growth spanning a century of profound changes in American agriculture. We document a substantial slowing of U.S. farm productivity growth, following a late mid-century surge-20 years after the surge and slowdown in U.S. industrial productivity growth. We posit and empirically probe three related explanations for this farm productivity surge-slowdown: The time path of agricultural R&D-driven knowledge stocks; a big wave of technological progress associated with great clusters of inventions; and dynamic aspects of the structural transformation of agriculture, largely completed by 1980.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-155
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of Economic History
Volume81
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

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