January 06, 2014

Do Temperature Thresholds Threaten American Farmland?

On January 4 I presented the paper titled "Do Temperature Thresholds Threaten American Farmland?" joint with Robert Mendelsohn at the ASSA meetings in Philadelphia.

The presentation is available here.

In short:

In this paper we use flexible functional forms to estimate the marginal effect of mean temperatures during 3-hour, daily and longer time intervals on land values. We use US Agricultural Census Data and detailed climate data obtained from the NARR model, a very large dataset that contains climatic data on 3-hour time intervals, at fine spatial resolution, from 1979 to present day. The paper finds no evidence of temperature threshold effects on land values and in the Eastern United States. The flexible functional forms suggest inverted-U shaped or almost constant marginal effects at different levels of temperature whether one is using average temperature over 3-hour, daily, continuous days or the growing season. We find instead evidence that land values in areas that are frequently affected by extreme heat waves reflect large expected productivity losses. Using annual yields and weather data we find evidence that both cold and high temperatures reduce corn, soybeans, and to a lesser extent, cotton yields. The downward sloping section of the relationship that relates temperature and yields is steeper than the upward sloping section but we do not find evidence of sudden discontinuities.