What if the Tractor had Never Been Invented?

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Here’s an interesting employment question: what if the tractor had never been invented? The tractor was invented less than a century ago and has clearly revolutionized farming. Only a fraction of pre-tractor labor is required for greater outputs. In 1910 nearly a 1/3 of America’s work force worked in the fields. By 1954, farms had lost 40% of their workers, but were able to produce crops on the same amount of land. One machine replaced 40% of workers within 44 years.

With the many labor-saving technologies invented in just the past few decades: ATMs, self-checkout lanes, factory-floor robots, and cancer screening software it does not take extensive searching to see we’re undergoing enormous labor efficiency changes today as well.

From The Enterprise Blog and NBER

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