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Nature versus Nurture: The Environment's Persistent Influence through the Modernization of American Agriculture

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  • Richard Hornbeck

Abstract

Technological innovation in agriculture was substantial during the 20th century. Is "modern" technological control of the environment replacing a "primitive" dependency on natural advantages and disadvantages, or has agricultural production remained persistently dependent on the environment? This paper estimates how the 20th century modernization of United States Plains' agriculture changed the impact of environmental characteristics on agricultural land values. Despite substantial technological innovation and rising land values from 1945 to 2002, counties' environmental characteristics largely maintained influence on land values. Environmental change has become no less costly, as technological innovation has not reduced the importance of natural advantages or disadvantages.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.102.3.245
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 245-49

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:3:p:245-49

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Cited by:
  1. Patrick M. Kline & Enrico Moretti, 2013. "Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority," NBER Working Papers 19293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Temple, Jonathan, 2013. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," CEPR Discussion Papers 9568, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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