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Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture as well as the adaptation possibilities of farmers. In my first chapter, I estimate the impact of climate change on agricultural land values using a variety of methods and forecast models. First, I combine a framework that incorporates different possible forecasts of future climate with degree days, a temperature measure that allows to capture the effects of extreme temperatures. I use this framework to estimate the damages of climate change relative to a constant 2002 climate. Second, I exploit climate variation over time between 1978 and 2002 within counties to estimate a land value regression. Using this variation, I can address the time-invariant omitted-variable bias of a cross-sectional regression. Furthermore, I estimate the impacts using a range of climate models. The present discounted damages range from $22 to $204 billion in 2002 dollars, with a mean of $67 billion dollars using a discount rate of 5 percent. In the models that use climate variation within counties over time, I find that estimated damages are on average $64 billion larger than the cross-sectional regressions. Furthermore, the choice of climate model has significant economic importance as the estimates across climate models vary by about $160 billion for nearly all specifications. Finally, I document substantial heterogeneity in impacts across counties. ,In the second chapter, Michael Greenstone, Ishan Nath, and I investigate how much farmers can adapt to climate change through their choice of crops. By combining a discrete choice framework with data on insurance costs for farmers, we estimate the impact of predicted changes in climate on farmer profits relative to other uses of land. In all specifications, climate change will produce a severe reduction in the share of land used to grow corn and soybeans in the US by the middle of the century. Farmers who grow corn would gain between 1.4 and 2.5 cents for an additional growing degree day relative to the outside option. On the other hand, farmers would lose between 17.9 and 32.3 cents from an increase in an additional growing degree days above 29 °C. We find similar results for soybeans. These results are robust across census years and choice sets. When farmers are allowed to re-optimize their land use, climate damages in 2050 are $8.9 to $11.8 billion lower compared to a scenario where their crop choice in 2002 is held constant.

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