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Linda Waite, Health & Well-Being of Adults over 60

The Impact of the Boll Weevil 1892-1932

Publication Abstract

Lange, Fabian, Alan L. Olmstead, and Paul W. Rhode. 2009. "The Impact of the Boll Weevil 1892-1932." The Journal of Economic History, 69(3): 685-718.

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 the insect's effects on the southern economy. We find that in anticipation of the contact, farmers increased production, attempting to squeeze out one last large crop. Upon arrival, the weevil had a large negative and lasting impact on cotton production, acreage, and especially yields. In response, rather than taking land out of agricultural production, farmers shifted to other crops. We also find striking effects on land values and population movements.

DOI:10.1017/S0022050709001090 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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