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The Sources of Measured US Agricultural Productivity Growth: Weather, Technological Change, and Adaptation

AAEA members release new research in AJAE

The average U.S. state obtained 50% more agricultural output at the end of the twentieth century than in the 1960s from the same input use. That 50% is the sum of a strong technical change predicting an increase of 55%, a significant negative rate of technical change diffusion (-4%) and a negative weather effect (-1%). While 1% may seem small on average, in the Midwest negative weather effects decrease productivity by up to 3%.

In the new article “The Sources of Measured US Agricultural Productivity Growth: Weather, Technological Change and Adaptation” published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, authors Robert Chambers from the University of Maryland and Simone Pieralli, from Massey University in New Zealand recognize the stochastic nature of agriculture by incorporating weather effects directly into a TFP growth accounting framework.

Pieralli says, “Technical change and differences in the rates of technology diffusion remain the most important factors explaining agricultural TFP growth for the average US state. But, TFP growth patterns exhibit measurable differences across the Climate-Hub regions, with the Midwest being most sensitive to weather change.”

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ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

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