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Can China continue feeding itself ? the impact of climate change on agriculture

  • Wang, Jinxia
  • Mendelsohn, Robert
  • Dinar, Ariel
  • Huang, Jikun
  • Rozelle, Scott
  • Zhang, Lijuan

Several studies addressing the supply and demand for food in China suggest that the nation can largely meet its needs in the coming decades. However, these studies do not consider the effects of climate change. This paper examines whether near future expected changes in climate are likely to alter this picture. The authors analyze the effect of temperature and precipitation on net crop revenues using a cross section consisting of both rainfed and irrigated farms. Based on survey data from 8,405 households across 28 provinces, the results of the Ricardian analysis demonstrate that global warming is likely to be harmful to China but the impacts are likely to be very different in each region. The mid latitude region of China may benefit from warming but the southern and northern regions are likely to be damaged by warming. More precipitation is beneficial to Chinese farmers except in the wet southeast. Irrigated and rainfed farmers have similar responses to precipitation but not to temperature. Warmer temperatures may benefit irrigated farms but they are likely to harm rainfed farms. Finally, seasonal effects vary and are offsetting. Although we were able to measure the direct effect of precipitation and temperature, we could not capture the effects of change in water flow which will be very important in China. Can China continue feeding itself if climate changes? Based on the empirical results, the likely gains realized by some farmers will nearly offset the losses that will occur to other farmers in China. If future climate scenarios lead to significant reductions in water, there may be large damages not addressed in this study.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4470.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4470
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  1. Fleischer, Aliza & Lichtman, Ivgenia & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2008. "Climate change, irrigation, and Israeli agriculture: Will warming be harmful?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 508-515, April.
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  3. Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D. & Mitchell, Glenn T., 2005. "Adjustment costs from environmental change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 468-495, November.
  4. Seo, Niggol & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "A Ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on Latin American farms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4163, The World Bank.
  5. Kurukulasuriya, Pradeep & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "A ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on African cropland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4305, The World Bank.
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  7. Wolfram Schlenker & W. Michael Hanemann & Anthony C. Fisher, 2005. "Will U.S. Agriculture Really Benefit from Global Warming? Accounting for Irrigation in the Hedonic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 395-406, March.
  8. Fan, Shenggen & Agcaoili-Sombilla, Mercedita C., 1997. "Why projections on China's future food supply and demand differ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 41(2), June.
  9. John K. Horowitz & John Quiggin, 1999. "The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture: A Ricardian Analysis: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 1044-1045, September.
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  11. L. Alan Winters & Shahid Yusuf, 2007. "Dancing with the Giants: China, India, and the Global Economy," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6632.
  12. Beach, Robert H. & Thomson, Allison M. & McCarl, Bruce A., 2010. "Climate Change Impacts On Us Agriculture," Proceedings Issues, 2010: Climate Change in World Agriculture: Mitigation, Adaptation, Trade and Food Security, June 2010, Stuttgart- Hohenheim, Germany 91393, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
  13. Kurukulasuriya, Pradeep & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "Endogenous irrigation : the impact of climate change on farmers in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4278, The World Bank.
  14. Robert Mendelsohn & William D. Nordhaus & Daigee Shaw, 1993. "Measuring the Impact of Global Warming in Agriculture," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1045, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  15. Mendelsohn, Robert & Dinar, Ariel, 1999. "Climate Change, Agriculture, and Developing Countries: Does Adaptation Matter?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 277-93, August.
  16. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya & Robert Mendelsohn & Rashid Hassan & James Benhin & Temesgen Deressa & Mbaye Diop & Helmy Mohamed Eid & K. Yerfi Fosu & Glwadys Gbetibouo & Suman Jain & Ali Mahamadou & Renneth, 2006. "Will African Agriculture Survive Climate Change?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(3), pages 367-388.
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