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Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability

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  • Oded Galor
  • Omer Ozak

Abstract

This paper establishes that the Caloric Suitability Index (CSI) dominates the commonly used measure of agricultural suitability in the examination of the effect of land productivity on comparative economic development. The analysis demonstrates that the agricultural suitability index does not capture the large variation in the potential caloric yield across equally suitable land, reflecting the fact that land suitable for agriculture is not necessarily suitable for the most caloric-intensive crops. Hence, in light of the instrumental role played by caloric yield in sustaining and supporting population growth, and given importance of pre-industrial population density for the subsequent course of economic development, the Caloric Suitability Index dominates the conventional measure in capturing the effect of land productivity on pre-colonial population density and the subsequent course of economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Oded Galor & Omer Ozak, 2015. "Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability," Working Papers 2015-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2015-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
    2. Oded Galor & Ömer Özak, 2016. "The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 3064-3103, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Caloric Suitability; Agricultural Suitability; Agricultural Productivity; Land Productivity; Economic Development; Population Density;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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