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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Price-Induced Technical Progress in 80 years of U.S. Agriculture


This paper presents a theory of technical progress that interprets the price-induced conjecture of Hicks. It provides also an exhaustive set of comparative statics conditions that constitute the scaffolding for an empirical test of the theory. A crucial assumption is that entrepreneurs make decisions about techniques on the basis of expected information about prices and quantities. Another assumption is that these decisions are made in order to fulfill a profitability objective. The novelty of our approach is that expected relative prices enter the production function as shifter of the technology frontier. The consequence of this assumption is an expansion of the traditional Shephard lemma that is useful for identifying the portion of input quantities that have been determined by the conjecture of price-induced technical progress (PITP). The theory is applied to a sample of 80 years of US agriculture. Three versions of the general model are presented. The first version deals only with expected relative prices. The empirical results do not reject the PITP hypothesis. The second and third versions introduce lagged expected relative prices, lagged R&D expenditures and lagged extension expenditures as explanatory variables of the portion of the input quantities that may be attributable to technical progress.

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