Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change, and Long-Run Development: Evidence from the US
- American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics (Forthcoming)
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. During the Second
Industrial Revolution, agricultural diversity fostered industrialization, diversification
within manufacturing, patent activity, formation of new labor skills, and the expansion
of 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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