Student Faculty Macro Lunch - "Have Robots Taken All of Our Jobs Before? The Case of Mechanization in US Agriculture"

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Submitted by Brandon Eltiste on August 30, 2019
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597 Evans Hall
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 12:00
About this Event

Emily Eisner, UCB

Abstract: I investigate the medium- and long-run effects of tractor adoption on local labor markets and individual farmers. Using crop mix as an instrument for tractor adoption, I find that for each farm resident susceptible to tractor exposure as of 1910, 0:4 farm residents had moved off the farm by 1930 and 0:5 had moved off by 1940. Simultaneously, manufacturing employment grew by 0:2 jobs for each susceptible farm resident. To investigate long run consequences for individual farmers, I link the 1920-1940 US Population Census records. I observe individual-level adjustments and outcomes in 1930 and 1940 for farmers who were exposed to tractors in the 1920s. I find that while prime age workers exposed to tractors are unlikely to move off the farm or out of agriculture, their children - those under the age of 10 in 1920 - are significantly more likely to move off the farm and out of agricultural employment, though not more likely to move out of their home county. Exposed youth are also less likely to be unemployed or out of the labor force in 1940 and are more likely to have attained education beyond the eighth grade.