The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random

57 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006 Last revised: 18 Apr 2012

See all articles by Olivier Deschenes

Olivier Deschenes

University of California, Santa Barbara - College of Letters & Science - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2004

Abstract

This paper measures the economic impact of climate change on US agricultural land. We replicate the previous literature's implementation of the hedonic approach and find that it produces estimates of the effect of climate change that are very sensitive to decisions about the appropriate control variables, sample and weighting. We find estimates of the benchmark doubling of greenhouse gases on agricultural land values that range from a decline of $420 billion (1997$) to an increase of $265 billion, or 30% to 19%. Despite its theoretical appeal, the wide variability of these estimates suggests that the hedonic method may be unreliable in this setting. In light of the potential importance of climate change, this paper proposes a new strategy to determine its economic impact. We estimate the effect of weather on farm profits, conditional on county and state by year fixed effects, so the weather parameters are identified from the presumably random variation in weather across counties within states. The results suggest that the benchmark change in climate would reduce the value of agricultural land by $40 to $80 billion, or 3% to 6%, but the null of zero effect cannot be rejected. In contrast to the hedonic approach, these results are robust to changes in specification. Since farmers can engage in a more extensive set of adaptations in response to permanent climate changes, this estimate is likely downwards biased, relative to the preferred long run effect. Together the point estimates and sign of the likely bias contradict the popular view that climate change will have substantial negative welfare consequences for the US agricultural sector.

Suggested Citation

Deschenes, Olivier and Greenstone, Michael, The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random (August 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10663. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=579809

Olivier Deschenes

University of California, Santa Barbara - College of Letters & Science - Department of Economics ( email )

UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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