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Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S

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  • Martin Fiszbein

Abstract

This paper examines the role of agricultural diversity in the process of development. Using data from U.S. counties and exploiting climate-induced variation in agricultural production patterns, I show that mid-19th century agricultural diversity had positive long-run effects on population density and income per capita. Examining the effects on development outcomes over time, I find that early agricultural diversity fostered structural change during the Second Industrial Revolution. Besides stimulating industrialization, agricultural diversity boosted manufacturing diversification, patent activity, and new labor skills, as well as knowledge- and skill-intensive industries. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that diversity spurs the acquisition of new ideas and new skills because of the presence of cross-sector spillovers and complementarities.

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  • Martin Fiszbein, 2017. "Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S," NBER Working Papers 23183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23183
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    2. Ji, Xinde & Cobourn, Kelly M. & Weng, Weizhe, 2018. "The Effect of Climate Change on Irrigated Agriculture: Water-Temperature Interactions and Adaptation in the Western U.S," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274306, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Jung, Yeonha, 2020. "The long reach of cotton in the US South: Tenant farming, mechanization, and low-skill manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    4. He, Xi, 2018. "Bigger Farms and Bigger Food Firms-The Agricultural Origin of Industrial Concentration in the Food Sector," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274206, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. William F. Maloney & Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 2017. "Engineering Growth: Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas," CESifo Working Paper Series 6339, CESifo.
    6. Carillo, Mario Francesco, 2018. "Agricultural policy and long-run development: evidence from Mussolini's Battle for Grain," MPRA Paper 88941, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Raphael Franck & Stelios Michalopoulos, 2017. "Emigration during the French Revolution: Consequences in the Short and Longue Durée," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 2, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    8. Ji, Xinde & Cobourn, Kelly M., 2017. "Water Availability, Land Allocation, and the Role of Irrigation Districts under Prior Appropriation Doctrine," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258377, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Jung, Yeonha, 2018. "How The Legacy of Slavery Has Survived: A Mechanism through Labor Market Institutions and Human Capital," SocArXiv snpg2, Center for Open Science.
    10. Jung, Yeonha, 2018. "The Legacy of King Cotton: Agricultural Patterns and the Quality of Structural Change," SocArXiv trjfz, Center for Open Science.
    11. Nith, Kosal & Ly, Singhong, 2018. "Reinvigorating Cambodian agriculture: Transforming from extensive to intensive agriculture," MPRA Paper 93086, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Dec 2018.
    12. Bolhuis, Marijn, 2019. "Catch-Up Growth and Inter-Industry Productivity Spillovers," MPRA Paper 94730, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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