The Impact of the Boll Weevil, 1892-1932
39 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2016
Date Written: May 1, 2008
The boll weevil is America’s most celebrated agricultural pest. We analyze new county-level panel data to provide sharp estimates of the time-path of insect's effects on the southern economy. We find that in anticipation of the contact, farmers increased production, attempting to squeeze one last large crop. Upon arrival, the weevil had a large negative and lasting impact on cotton production, acreage, and especially yields. In response, farmers did not take land out of agricultural use instead shifting to other crops. We also find striking effects on land values and population movements.
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