Farming Output, Concentration, and Market Access: Evidence from the Nineteenth Century American Railroad Expansion

51 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2022

See all articles by Jeff Chan

Jeff Chan

Wilfrid Laurier University

Date Written: July 6, 2021

Abstract

I examine how market access affects farming output and whether changes to output were driven
by increasing concentration in production. To do so, I use the American railroad expansion in the late 19th century as a natural experiment. I first show that farm output increases in counties with greater market access but output concentration does not. I show that changes in farming output are driven by an expansion in land used for farming and increased rural population. Finally, I use potential yield data from FAO-GAEZ as county–crop-specific productivities to show that increased output as a result of market access shocks is not driven by crops in which a county has a comparative advantage. I conclude that, instead, the impact of market access on agricultural output comes from an increase in resources allocated to production as the rural population of counties grows and improves more farmland for use.

Keywords: comparative advantage, crops, agriculture, market access

JEL Classification: F14, N51, N71, O13

Suggested Citation

Chan, Jeff, Farming Output, Concentration, and Market Access: Evidence from the Nineteenth Century American Railroad Expansion (July 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688769 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3688769

Jeff Chan (Contact Author)

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Canada

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