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Did the Baby Boom Cause the Farm-Size Boom?


  • Roberts, Michael J.
  • Key, Nigel D.


Growing farm size has generally been explained by technological advances that have allowed farmers to substitute capital for labor. Another possible factor in explaining recent farm size is the demographic shift: the age distribution of farmers has shifted to the right and older farmers generally operate larger farms than younger farmers. This paper uses data from the 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002 Agricultural Censuses to examine the relative importance of the demographic shift versus technological factors in explaining overall farm size growth. Results indicate that farm sizes tend to increase with age and that, holding age constant, the typical farm-size has increased over time for all ages, presumably due to technological change. The age-distribution shift is combined with the age-specific farm-size shift, to provide a preliminary estimate of the effect of the age distribution shift and technological change on average farm size growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberts, Michael J. & Key, Nigel D., 2008. "Did the Baby Boom Cause the Farm-Size Boom?," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6087, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea08:6087

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kislev, Yoav & Peterson, Willis, 1982. "Prices, Technology, and Farm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 578-595, June.
    2. Michael J. Roberts & Nigel Key, 2008. "Agricultural Payments and Land Concentration: A Semiparametric Spatial Regression Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 627-643.
    3. H. Frederick Gale, 1994. "Longitudinal Analysis of Farm Size over the Farmer's Life Cycle," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 16(1), pages 113-123.
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    farm structure; demographic shift; age distribution; farm size distribution; Farm Management; Industrial Organization; Labor and Human Capital;

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