Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Pinar Keskin is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Wellesley College. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University and an undergraduate degree from Bilkent University, Turkey. Pinar joined Wellesley College after serving as a post-doctoral Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard’s Center for International Development. Her research interests fall in the fields of Development and Environmental Economics. Pinar’s work is centered around the determinants and consequences of water access, with a particular focus on gender dynamics and on the institutional context of groundwater markets in developing countries.
The Historically Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Drought
Agriculture on the American Great Plains has been constrained historically by water scarcity. In the latter half of the 20th century, technological improvements enabled farmers over the Ogallala aquifer to extract groundwater for large-scale irrigation. Comparing counties over the Ogallala with nearby similar counties, groundwater access increased agricultural land values and initially reduced the impact of droughts in the counties over the Ogallala aquifer. Over time, land-use adjusted toward water-intensive crops and drought-sensitivity increased. Farmers in nearby water-scarce counties maintained lower-value drought-resistant practices that mitigate naturally higher drought-sensitivity. This episode illustrates the importance of water for agriculture, but also the large scope for adaptation to groundwater and drought.
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