Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

R. G. F. Spitze

Committee Members

E. J. Long, J. A. Martin, Samuel W. Atkins, D. S. Chambers


The study of economic problems which are strategically grounded in the characteristics and uses of the land is an important aspect of Agricultural Economics. Their solution has demanded so much attention that in the past that the results of the corresponding inquiries have been gradually articulated into a special field of study. This field of study is known as Land Economics.

One problem in Land Economics constitutes the subject-matter of this thesis. Stated in broad terms, the problem is the impact of land characteristics upon the welfare of farm people are measured by their per-capita incomes. Recognition of the fact that land varies in its impact upon the welfare of farm people has indicated the need to develop systems of land classification to provide information about types of land having relatively different effects on the levels of income of those people. Since the welfare problem, as previously defined, is basically economic, it follows that such systems of classification must result in these relationships should be useful in the solution of different aspects of the welfare problem.

Many different land classification techniques have been developed during the last few decades. One of them is the method of economic land use classification developed at Cornell University, sometimes called the New York method. To appraise the New York technique in its theoretical, factual and instrumental relationships is one of the main purposes of this thesis. Specifically, the problem to be investigated is the determination of the nature of the classification, as reflected on the economic relationships of the farms within and among land classes. The possible uses and implications of findings thereby established will also be considered. Although some of the results of other studies will be used, the bulk of the factual evidence to be presented will be furnished by the data of Farm Management study of the upper Reventazon River watershed in Costa Rica. In addition, a substantial portion of the thesis will be devoted to examine some of the broader issues connected with land classification as a tool of economics analysis in general.

Therefore, this thesis will consist of two main parts. The first will include the general discussion on land classification as a tool of economic analysis. Since these broader issues are basically methodological, some of the general discussion will be concerned with the development of the writer’s viewpoint on the nature, meaning and purpose of research. The rest of this first part will be concerned with the specific methodological issues that arise around economic land use classification as a research technique. The second part will then deal with the statistical treatment and findings of the Farm Management study of the Reventason watershed. This part will also formulate the conclusions that may be drawn from such evidential material, within the framework laid down in the first part.

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