Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


JEL Codes

Q15, Q54, C55


Q15 - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment, Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters; Global Warming


We identify the agricultural inputs that drove the growth in global and regional crop yields from 1975 to the mid-2000s. We find that improvements in agricultural technology, increased fertilizer use, and changes in crop mix around the world explained most of the gain in global crop yields, although impacts varied across the latitude gradient. Climate change over this time period caused yields to be only slightly lower than they would have been otherwise. In some cases cropland extensification had as much of a negative impact on global and regional yields as climate change. To maintain the momentum in yield growth across the globe 1) use of agricultural chemicals and investment in agricultural technology in the tropics must increase rapidly and 2) international trade in agricultural products must expand significantly.