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Moving Matters: The Effect of Location on Crop Production

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2015

Jason M. Beddow
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Ave., 248 Ruttan Hall, Saint Paul, MN 55108. Email: beddow@umn.edu.
Philip G. Pardey
Affiliation:
Professor, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Ave., 248 Ruttan Hall, Saint Paul, MN 55108. E-mail: ppardey@umn.edu. Both are affiliated with the University of Minnesota's International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center.

Abstract

U.S corn output increased from 1.8 billion bushels in 1879 to 12.7 billion bushels in 2007. Concurrently, the footprint of production changed substantially. Failure to take proper account of movements means that productivity assessments likely misattribute sources of growth and climate change studies likely overestimate impacts. Our new spatial output indexes show that 16 to 21 percent of the increase in U.S. corn output over the 128 years beginning in 1879 was attributable to spatial movement in production. This long-run perspective provides historical precedent for how much agriculture might adjust to future changes in climate and technology.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Economic History Association 2015 

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Footnotes

This work would not have been possible without the help of many, including Connie Chan-Kang, Michelle Hallaway, and Toby Pardey. Two anonymous reviewers, Terrance Hurley, Robert King, Alan Olmstead, and, especially, Marcel K. Richter provided many insights. The Editor of this Journal, Paul W. Rhode, contributed substantially to the work reported here. This article was prepared with support from the University of Minnesota's MNDrive Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by way of the HarvestChoice project.

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