October 29, 2015

Using Cross-Sectional Analysis to Measure the Impact of Climate on Agriculture

This paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of using cross-sectional methods to study climate impacts on agriculture. The paper addresses concerns about missing variable bias, irrigation, prices, and carbon fertilization. The paper then reviews the predicted marginal climate impacts of cross-sectional Ricardian models from around the world. The qualitative results are quite similar to findings from agro-economic models. The quantitative results suggest a hill-shaped relationship with respect to both temperature and precipitation. This implies warming will be especially harmful in the low latitudes but possibly beneficial in the mid to high latitudes. The impacts vary between rainfed and irrigated farms and between crop and livestock farms. The expected damage from warming for the next century on global production is about the same magnitude as the likely benefit of carbon fertilization.

Mendelsohn, R. and E. Massetti. 2015. "Using Cross-Sectional Analysis to Measure the Impact of Climate on Agriculture"