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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Hornbeck, 2012. "Nature versus Nurture: The Environment's Persistent Influence through the Modernization of American Agriculture," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 245-249, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:3:p:245-49
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.102.3.245
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olmstead,Alan L. & Rhode,Paul W., 2008. "Creating Abundance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521673877, March.
    2. Richard Hornbeck, 2010. "Barbed Wire: Property Rights and Agricultural Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 767-810.
    3. Richard Hornbeck & Pinar Keskin, 2011. "The Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Climate," NBER Working Papers 17625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2014. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 683-779 Elsevier.
    2. Enrico Moretti, 2014. "Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 275-331.
    3. Solomon M. Hsiang & Amir S. Jina, 2015. "Geography, Depreciation, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 252-256, May.
    4. repec:esx:essedp:729 is not listed on IDEAS

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