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The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random Fluctuations in Weather

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  • Deschenes, Olivier
  • Greenstone, Michael

Abstract

This paper measures the economic impact of climate change on US agricultural land. We replicate the previous literature's implementation of the hedonic approach and find that it produces estimates of the effect of climate change that are very sensitive to decisions about the appropriate control variables, sample and weighting. We find estimates of the benchmark doubling of greenhouse gases on agricultural land values that range from a decline of $420 billion (1997$) to an increase of $265 billion, or -30% to 19%. Despite its theoretical appeal, the wide variability of these estimates suggests that the hedonic method may be unreliable in this setting. In light of the potential importance of climate change, this paper proposes a new strategy to determine its economic impact. We estimate the effect of weather on farm profits, conditional on county and state by year fixed effects, so the weather parameters are identified from the presumably random variation in weather across counties within states. The results suggest that the benchmark change in climate would reduce the value of agricultural land by $40 to $80 billion, or -3% to -6%, but the null of zero effect cannot be rejected. In contrast to the hedonic approach, these results are robust to changes in specification. Since farmers can engage in a more extensive set of adaptations in response to permanent climate changes, this estimate is likely downwards biased, relative to the preferred long run effect. Together the point estimates and sign of the likely bias contradict the popular view that climate change will have substantial negative welfare consequences for the US agricultural sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Deschenes, Olivier & Greenstone, Michael, 2004. "The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random Fluctuations in Weather," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6w7242cj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt6w7242cj
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    1. repec:col:000385:015966 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bluedorn, John & Valentinyi, Akos & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2009. "The Long-Lived Effects of Historic Climate on the Wealth of Nations," CEPR Discussion Papers 7572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Zeynep K. Hansen & Gary D. Libecap & Scott E. Lowe, 2011. "Climate Variability and Water Infrastructure: Historical Experience in the Western United States," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 253-280 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. B. Sonneveld & M. Keyzer & P. Adegbola & S. Pande, 2012. "The Impact of Climate Change on Crop Production in West Africa: An Assessment for the Oueme River Basin in Benin," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(2), pages 553-579, January.
    5. Jonathan F. Fox & Price V. Fishback & Paul W. Rhode, 2011. "The Effects of Weather Shocks on Crop Prices in Unfettered Markets: The United States Prior to the Farm Programs, 1895-1932," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 99-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Orley C. Ashenfelter & Karl Storchmann, 2006. "Using a Hedonic Model of Solar Radiation to Assess the Economic Effect of Climate Change: The Case of Mosel Valley Vineyards," Working Papers 72, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    7. Olivier Deschenes & Charles Kolstad, 2011. "Economic impacts of climate change on California agriculture," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 109(1), pages 365-386, December.
    8. Asadoorian, Malcolm O. & Eckaus, Richard S. & Schlosser, C. Adam, 2008. "Modeling climate feedbacks to electricity demand: The case of China," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1577-1602, July.
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    10. Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher, 2008. "Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 951-1003.
    11. Martinsohn, Maria & Hansen, Heiko, 2012. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Economics of Dairy Farming – a Review and Evaluation," Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, vol. 61(2).
    12. Alan I. Barreca, 2010. "The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 865-892.
    13. Mukherjee, Monobina & Schwabe, Kurt A., 2014. "Where's the salt? A spatial hedonic analysis of the value of groundwater to irrigated agriculture," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 110-122.
    14. Joelle SAAD-LESSLER & George TSELIOUDIS, 2010. "Storms, Climate Change, And The Us Economy: A National Analysis," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 10(1).
    15. Kahrl, Fredrich & Roland-Holst, David, 2008. "Climate change risk and response," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt79x4k2qd, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    16. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
    17. Joelle SAAD-LESSLER & George TSELIOUDES, 2009. "Storms, Climate Change, and the US Economy: A National Analysis," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 9(1).
    18. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2008. "Climate Change and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," NBER Working Papers 14132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Wolfram Schlenker & Michael J. Roberts, 2008. "Estimating the Impact of Climate Change on Crop Yields: The Importance of Nonlinear Temperature Effects," NBER Working Papers 13799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    global climate change; agricultural profits; hedonic regressions; fixed-effects models;

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects

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