Determinants of Motives for Land Use Decisions at the Margins of the Corn Belt

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Wang, Tong
Luri, Moses
Janssen, Larry
Hennessy, David
Wimberly, Michael
Arora, Gaurav
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Feng, Hongli
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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The extent of United States Great Plains grass agriculture has ebbed and flowed over decades in response to market incentives, government policies, technological innovations and weather patterns. Our thesis is that the land most responsive to these drivers is at the economic margin between grass-based production and cropping. Much of the eastern Dakotas is such an area, primarily under crop-based agriculture although grass remains an important land use. We surveyed land operators in the area on their views about motivators for land use choices. Their views are largely consistent with the economic margin viewpoint. The importance of crop output prices, crop input prices, innovations in cropping equipment and weather patterns on land use decisions grow as one moves north toward the economic margin. Land in more highly sloped areas is more sensitive to crop prices and crop insurance policies. Consistent with human capital theory, older operators are generally less responsive to factors that affect land use. Those renting more land, being more exposed to market forces, are more responsive. As farm size increases, respondents declared higher land use sensitivity to policy issues and technological innovations, suggesting that scale effects render land units more sensitive to land use change drivers.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Wang, Tong, Moses Luri, Larry Janssen, David A. Hennessy, Hongli Feng, Michael C. Wimberly, and Gaurav Arora. "Determinants of motives for land use decisions at the margins of the Corn Belt." Ecological economics 134 (2017): 227-237. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.12.006. Posted with permission.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017