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Explaining wheat yields in eighteenth-century Spain

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  • Carlos Santiago-Caballero

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Abstract

From an extensive dataset of wheat yields at municipal level in mid eighteenth-century Spain, a detailed statistical analysis indicates that the differences in wheat yields were mainly a consequence of different natural conditions, and that demand did not have a significant influence. Counterfactual exercises show that improvements in rainfall, altitude or roughness of terrain would have a significant impact on average yields. The paper concludes that, although grain markets in the mid-eighteenth century were well integrated, producers addressed the growing demand not by investing in increasing yields, but by extending the area of cultivated land using the still abundant pastures. The low grain yields in Spain were in part a consequence of the rational behaviour of producers who faced an economic environment characterized by an elastic supply of land

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wp12-05.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp12-05

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Keywords: Yields; Land; Market; Climate;

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  1. Mironov, Boris & A'Hearn, Brian, 2008. "Russian Living Standards under the Tsars: Anthropometric Evidence from the Volga," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 900-929, September.
  2. Reher, David S., 2001. "Producción, precios e integración de los mercados regionales de grano en la España preindustrial," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(03), pages 539-572, December.
  3. Álvarez-Nogal, Carlos & Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2011. "The Rise and Fall of Spain (1270-1850)," CEPR Discussion Papers 8369, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Jeffrey G. Williamson & Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert, 2008. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," Working Papers 08-06, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
  5. Clark, Gregory, 1992. "The Economics of Exhaustion, the Postan Thesis, and the Agricultural Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 61-84, March.
  6. Brunt, Liam, 2004. "Nature or Nurture? Explaining English Wheat Yields in the Industrial Revolution, c.1770," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 193-225, March.
  7. Kopsidis, Michael & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2012. "Agricultural Productivity Across Prussia During the Industrial Revolution: A Thünen Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 634-670, September.
  8. Overton, Mark, 1979. "Estimating Crop Yields from Probate Inventories: An Example from EastAnglia, 1585–1735," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 363-378, June.
  9. Allen, Robert C., 1988. "Inferring Yields from Probate Inventories," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 117-125, March.
  10. Simpson,James, 2003. "Spanish Agriculture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521525169, April.
  11. Carlos Santiago Caballero, 2010. "Income inequality in central Spain, 1690-1800," Working Papers in Economic History wp10-11, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
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