Farm operators' management of resources is dynamic, and offers a meaningful way to evaluate important theories about how households develop and how population and environment are related. The role of household and family in this process has received attention but remains difficult to understand without a long series of data that link family, farm and environment. Taking a household lifecycle approach, we model change in land-use practice as a function of household composition in historical and environmental context. We use data from rich, linked individual-level population and farm Census records for 1860-1940 from 25 representative Kansas townships. Using multilevel mixed growth models, we find that environmental conditions are closely allied to the size of farms and acres of crops. Investment in increasing farm land is better explained by head's life course, while investment in cropping is better explained by labor availability and household lifecycle.
PMCID: PMC3105790. (Pub Med Central)
Country of focus: United States.