Abstract

Technology adoption often requires multiple stages of investment. As new information emerges, agents may abandon a technology that was profitable in expectation. We use a field experiment to vary the payoffs at two stages of investment in a new technology: a tree species that provides on-farm fertilizer benefits. Farmer decisions identify the information about profitability that arrives between the take-up and follow-through stages. Results show that this form of uncertainty increases take-up but lowers average tree survival, decreasing the cost-effectiveness of take-up subsidies. Thus, uncertainty offers another explanation for why even costly technologies may go unused or be abandoned.

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