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Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability

30 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2015 Last revised: 13 Jul 2015

Oded Galor

Brown University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 12, 2015

Abstract

This paper establishes that the Caloric Suitability Index (CSI) dominates the commonly used measure of agricultural suitability in the examination of the effect of land productivity on comparative economic development. The analysis demonstrates that the agricultural suitability index does not capture the large variation in the potential caloric yield across equally suitable land, reflecting the fact that land suitable for agriculture is not necessarily suitable for the most caloric-intensive crops. Hence, in light of the instrumental role played by caloric yield in sustaining and supporting population growth, and given importance of pre-industrial population density for the subsequent course of economic development, the Caloric Suitability Index dominates the conventional measure in capturing the effect of land productivity on pre-colonial population density and the subsequent course of economic development.

Keywords: Caloric Suitability, Agricultural Suitability, Agricultural Productivity, Land Productivity, Economic Development, Population Density

JEL Classification: O10, O40, Q10

Suggested Citation

Galor, Oded and Özak, Ömer, Land Productivity and Economic Development: Caloric Suitability vs. Agricultural Suitability (July 12, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2625180 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2625180

Oded Galor

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Providence, RI 02912
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/Oded_Galor/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/Oded_Galor/

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com

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