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Economies of Density versus Natural Advantage: Crop Choice on the Back Forty

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  • Thomas J. Holmes
  • Sanghoon Lee

Abstract

We estimate the factors determining specialization of crop choice at the level of individual fields, distinguishing between the role of natural advantage (soil characteristics) and economies of density (scale economies achieved when farmers plant neighboring fields with the same crop). Using rich geographic data from North Dakota, including new data on crop choice collected by satellite, we estimate the analog of a social interactions econometric model for the planting decisions on neighboring fields. We find that planting decisions on a field are heavily dependent on the soil characteristics of the neighboring fields. Through this relationship, we back out the structural parameters of economies of density. Setting an Ellison-Glaeser dartboard level of specialization as a benchmark, we find that of the actual level of specialization achieved beyond this benchmark, approximately two-thirds can be attributed to natural advantage and one-third to density economies.

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  • Thomas J. Holmes & Sanghoon Lee, 2009. "Economies of Density versus Natural Advantage: Crop Choice on the Back Forty," NBER Working Papers 14704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14704
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    Cited by:

    1. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Gobillon, Laurent, 2015. "The Empirics of Agglomeration Economies," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Glenn Ellison & Edward L. Glaeser & William R. Kerr, 2010. "What Causes Industry Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1195-1213, June.
    3. Raghuram Rajan & Rodney Ramcharan, 2015. "The Anatomy of a Credit Crisis: The Boom and Bust in Farm Land Prices in the United States in the 1920s," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1439-1477, April.
    4. Gibbons, Steve & Overman, Henry G. & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2015. "Spatial Methods," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kerr, William R. & Ponzetto, Giacomo A.M., 2010. "Clusters of entrepreneurship," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 150-168, January.
    6. repec:nbr:nberch:13941 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Stephen J. Redding, 2010. "The Empirics Of New Economic Geography," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 297-311.
    8. Benjamin Bridgman & Michael Maio & James A. Schmitz, 2012. "What ever happened to the Puerto Rican sugar manufacturing industry?," Staff Report 477, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Edward L. Glaeser & Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2015. "Entrepreneurship and Urban Growth: An Empirical Assessment with Historical Mines," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 498-520, May.
    10. Dave Donaldson & Adam Storeygard, 2016. "The View from Above: Applications of Satellite Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 171-198, Fall.
    11. Ramcharan Rodney, 2010. "The Link between the Economic Structure and Financial Development," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-37, May.
    12. Redding, Stephen J., 2009. "Economic Geography: a Review of the Theoretical and Empirical Literature," CEPR Discussion Papers 7126, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Fertő, Imre & Csonka, Arnold, 2017. "Válság- és agglomerációs hatások a magyarországi sertéstartásban
      [Crisis and agglomeration in Hungary s pig production]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(2), pages 105-122.
    14. Ager, Philipp & Hansen, Casper Worm & Lønstrup, Lars, 2018. "Shaking Up the Equilibrium: Natural Disasters, Economic Activity, and Immigration," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 2/2018, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    15. Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck, 2009. "The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions," NBER Working Papers 14942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. McFadden, Jonathan R., 2015. "Essays on climate change adaptation and biotechnologies in U.S. agriculture," ISU General Staff Papers 201501010800005635, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    17. Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin, 2012. "Portage and Path Dependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 587-644.
    18. Diego Restuccia & Tasso Adamopoulos, 2017. "Geography and Agricultural Productivity: Cross-Country Evidence from Micro Plot-Level Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1180, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Marcelo Olivares & Gabriel Y. Weintraub & Rafael Epstein & Daniel Yung, 2012. "Combinatorial Auctions for Procurement: An Empirical Study of the Chilean School Meals Auction," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1458-1481, August.
    20. William R. Kerr & Scott Duke Kominers, 2015. "Agglomerative Forces and Cluster Shapes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 877-899, October.
    21. Thomas J. Holmes & Sanghoon Lee, 2010. "Cities as Six-by-Six-Mile Squares: Zipf's Law?," NBER Chapters,in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 105-131 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Gary D. Libecap & Dean Lueck, 2009. "The Demarcation of Land and the Role of Coordinating Institutions," ICER Working Papers 14-2009, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns

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