Population and Environment

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 287–317 | Cite as

Household and farm transitions in environmental context

  • Susan Hautaniemi LeonardEmail author
  • Glenn D. Deane
  • Myron P. Gutmann
Original Paper


Recent debate in the literature on population, environment, and land use questions the applicability of theory that patterns of farm extensification and intensification correspond to the life course of farmers and to the life cycle of farm families. This paper extends the debate to the agricultural development of the United States Great Plains region, using unique data from 1875 to 1930 that link families to farms over time in 25 environmentally diverse Kansas townships. Results of multilevel statistical modeling indicate that farmer’s age, household size, and household structure are simultaneously related to both the extent of farm operations and the intensity of land use, taking into account local environmental conditions and time trends as Kansas was settled and developed. These findings validate farm- and life cycle theories and offer support for intergenerational motivations for farm development that include both daughters and sons. Environmental variation in aridity was a key driver of farm structure.


Household Life cycle Land use Agriculture Semi-arid Kansas 



Funding for this project was provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, R01HD044889.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Hautaniemi Leonard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Glenn D. Deane
    • 2
  • Myron P. Gutmann
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.University at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

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