The Long Run Effects of Agricultural Productivity Shocks: Irrigation and Structural Change in Mexico


Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


Speaker: Melissa Dell, Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Moderator: Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University

This study examines the long-run impacts of irrigation on agricultural productivity and economic development in Mexico using data compiled from newly digitized agricultural industrial and population censuses from throughout the 20th century. Irrigation leads to increases in both agricultural and industrial output and productivity in the long run.

Melissa Dell is an assistant professor in the economics department at Harvard University and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research examines economic development state capacity and conflict in a variety of contexts in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Her work has analyzed how air strikes and hearts and minds initiatives impacted insurgency during the Vietnam War and how crackdowns on the drug trade affected drug violence and drug trafficking routes in Mexico. Other studies examine how climate change is affecting low income countries and how historical conflicts condition economics and politics in the long-run. In 2014 Melissa was named by the IMF as the youngest of 25 economists under the age of 45 shaping thought about the global economy. She has published articles in the American Economic Review Econometrica the Quarterly Journal of Economics and elsewhere. She received an AB degree in economics from Harvard University a master’s degree in economics from Oxford University – where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar – and a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.