Climate Variability and Water Infrastructure: Historical Experience in the Western United States

35 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2009 Last revised: 7 Jul 2010

See all articles by Zeynep K. Hansen

Zeynep K. Hansen

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gary D. Libecap

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Scott Lowe

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 2009

Abstract

Greater historical perspective is needed to enlighten current debate about future human responses to higher temperatures and increased precipitation variation. We analyze the impact of climatic conditions and variability on agricultural production in five semi-arid western states. We assemble county-level data on dams and other major water infrastructure; agricultural crop mixes and yields; precipitation and temperature; soil quality, and topography. Using this extensive data set, we analyze the impact of water infrastructure investments on crop mix and yields in affected counties relative to similarly-endowed counties that lack such infrastructure. We find that water infrastructure smoothes agricultural crop production and increases the likelihood of a successful harvest, especially during times of severe drought or excessive precipitation.

Suggested Citation

Hansen, Zeynep Kocabiyik and Libecap, Gary D. and Lowe, Scott, Climate Variability and Water Infrastructure: Historical Experience in the Western United States (December 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15558. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1518751

Zeynep Kocabiyik Hansen (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gary D. Libecap

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States
805-893-8611 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.esm.ucsb.edu/people/usernew.asp?user=glibecap

University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4821 (Phone)
520-626-5269 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bpa.arizona.edu/~libecap

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Scott Lowe

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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