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Climate change influences on agricultural research productivity


This paper investigates the impacts of climate change on US returns to research investments on agricultural productivity. We examine this using a historical data set in a panel time-series econometric model of state agricultural productivity. The fitted model allows derivation of the rate of return to research investments and the effects of climate change thereon. We find climate change is altering the rate of return to public agricultural research in a spatially heterogeneous manner. Increases in precipitation raise returns to research, while the impact of higher temperatures varies by region, are negative in Southern areas, particularly the Southern Plains, and positive in northern areas. We simulate the impact of projected climate change and find cases where agricultural productivity is reduced, for example in the Southern Plains. Finally, we consider the amount of research investment that is needed to adapt to overcome the impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity. Under the 2100 scenario, a 7–17 % increase in total US research investment is needed to adapt, but effects by region differ greatly—some requiring little changes and the Southern Plain requiring an increase as high as 57 %.

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  1. The agricultural TFP, as is defined in this study (and many other studies cited in the text), reflects not only advance in agricultural technology (in agronomy sense) but also other aspects of farm management, such as crop choice, farm investment and risk management, marketing, just to name a few.

  2. The impact on a given state of direct public agricultural research undertaken by other states in an area.

  3. Intensity ranges from 1/12, when precipitation is uniformly distributed across all months of the year, and 1 if annual precipitation is concentrated in only 1 month.


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Correspondence to Ximing Wu.

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Seniority of authorship is shared among Xavier Villavicencio, Bruce A. McCarl and Ximing Wu.

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Villavicencio, X., McCarl, B.A., Wu, X. et al. Climate change influences on agricultural research productivity. Climatic Change 119, 815–824 (2013).

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  • Total Factor Productivity
  • Total Factor Productivity Growth
  • Research Investment
  • Southern Plain
  • Total Factor Productivity Growth Rate