Engines of Growth: Farm Tractors and Twentieth-Century U.S. Economic Welfare

47 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2012 Last revised: 27 Oct 2014

See all articles by Richard H. Steckel

Richard H. Steckel

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

William White

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

The role of twentieth-century agricultural mechanization in changing the productivity, employment opportunities, and appearance of rural America has long been appreciated. Less attention has been paid to the impact made by farm tractors, combines, and associated equipment on the standard of living of the U.S. population as a whole. This paper demonstrates, through use of a detailed counterfactual analysis, that mechanization in the production of farm products increased GDP by more than 8.0 percent, using 1954 as a base year. This result suggests that studying individual innovations can significantly increase our understanding of the nature of economic growth.

Suggested Citation

Steckel, Richard H. and White, William, Engines of Growth: Farm Tractors and Twentieth-Century U.S. Economic Welfare (March 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17879, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2014575

Richard H. Steckel (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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William White

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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