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Is It a Jungle Out There?: Meat Packing, Immigrants and Rural Communities


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  • Artz, Georgeanne M.
  • Jackson, Rebecca
  • Orazem, Peter


�Over the past 45 years, meatpacking has shifted from a predominantly urban to a predominantly�rural industry. Meatpacking plants can represent a significant share of a rural community’s�employment. As a traditional employer of immigrants, these plants can also alter significantly�the demographic composition of a rural community. These changes have led to numerous�controversies regarding whether these plants impose social or economic costs on their host�communities. This study uses comments culled from various media to identify the most�prominent controversies, including whether meatpacking presence leads to local language�problems, social service expenses, special needs schooling or displacement of native-born�citizens. These controversies can be recast as hypotheses that can be subjected to empirical tests.�We show that the meat processing industry has had large impacts on the demographic�composition of rural communities and their schools including increases in populations requiring�specialized services. However, there is no evidence that the industry increases per capita�government expenditures suggesting that rural communities trade off the economic benefits of�having these large employers against the costs of accommodating the needs of the new residents. ��

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 12966.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2010
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, August 2010, vol. 35 no. 2, pp. 299-315
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12966

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Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
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Keywords: Welfare; Rural; meatpacking; immigration; ESL; public expense; social cost;

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  1. James M. MacDonald & Michael E. Ollinger, 2005. "Technology, Labor Wars, and Producer Dynamics: Explaining Consolidation in Beefpacking," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(4), pages 1020-1033.
  2. Georgeanne M. Artz & Peter F. Orazem & Daniel M. Otto, 2007. "Measuring the Impact of Meat Packing and Processing Facilities in Nonmetropolitan Counties: A Difference-in-Differences Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(3), pages 557-570.
  3. Milton Madison, 2005. "Technological Change and Economies of Scale in U.S. Poultry Processing," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(1), pages 116-129.
  4. Milton Madison & James MacDonald & Michael Ollinger, 2000. "Technological Change and Economies of Scale in U.S. Poultry Slaughter," Working Papers 00-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Orazem, Peter F. & Wohlgemuth, Darin & Huang, Tzu-Ling, 2002. "The Causes And Consequences Of Rural Immigrant Population Growth, 1950-1990," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19750, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
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Cited by:
  1. Sneeringer, Stacy E. & Hertz, Thomas, 2010. "Local Effects of Hog Production on Farm and Non-Farm Economic Outcomes," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61463, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.


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