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

Resource Type
  • Pardey, Philip (University of Minnesota)
  • Alston, Julian (University of California-Davis)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • University of Minnesota. Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
    • Award Number: MIN-14-161
  • University of California
  • Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics
  • 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.
This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
  • Has version
    DOI: 10.3886/E130481V1
  • Pardey, Philip, and Julian Alston. “Unpacking the Agricultural Black Box: The Rise and Fall of American Farm Productivity Growth.” Journal of Economic History 81, no. 1 (March 1, 2021).

Update Metadata: 2021-01-09 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2021-01-09