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Agricultural development during early industrialization in a low-wage economy: Saxony, c. 1790-1830

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  • Michael Kopsidis

    ()
    (Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and East-ern Europe (IAMO))

  • Ulrich Pfister

    ()
    (University of Muenster)

Abstract

The characteristics of regional paths of industrialization had a deep impact on agricultural development during early industrialization in Germany. From 1840 rising incomes in the course of a “high wage-low energy cost” industrialization based on coal and steel and a rapid urbanization triggered a demand driven agricultural revolution in Northwest Germany. In contrast, Saxony’s early industrialization c. 1800-1860 followed a “low wage-high energy cost” trajectory based on textile production and slow urbanization. The low level and slow growth of income meant that up to 1830 the adaptation of agricultural innovations neither followed demand impulses transmitted through markets, nor did they facilitate inter-regional specialization according to comparative advantage. Rather, regional agriculture ac-commodated to population growth by expanding the cultivation of subsistence crops, mainly potatoes, probably at the detriment of animal husbandry. Whereas the increase of sown area indicates an intensification of land use yield ratios remained at best stable between the early 1790s and the late 1820s. Hence, local supply could barely cope with population growth, and since grain market integration did not evolve over time imports did not com-pensate for the shortcomings of domestic production. Our evidence of a deteriorating food standard goes a long way toward explaining the decline of the biological standard of living during Saxony’s early industrialization.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Historical Economics Society (EHES) in its series Working Papers with number 0039.

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Length: 145 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0039

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Keywords: Agriculture and industrialization; regional specialization; Agricultural Revolution;

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  1. Dasgupta, Partha & Ray, Debraj, 1987. "Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 177-88, March.
  2. Grantham, George, 1999. "Contra Ricardo: On the macroeconomics of pre-industrial economies," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 199-232, August.
  3. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
  4. Ulrich Pfister, 2010. "Consumer prices and wages in Germany, 1500 - 1850," CQE Working Papers 1510, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster.
  5. Uebele, Martin & Pfister, Ulrich & Riedel, Jana, 2012. "Real wages and the origins of modern economic growth in Germany, 16th to 19th centuries," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62076, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  6. Kopsidis, Michael & Hockmann, Heinrich, 2010. "Technical change in Westphalian peasant agriculture and the rise of the Ruhr, circa 1830–1880," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 209-237, August.
  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. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2010. "The population history of Germany: research strategy and preliminary results," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  9. Ewert, Ulf Christian, 2006. "The biological standard of living on the decline: Episodes from Germany during early industrialisation," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 51-88, April.
  10. Grantham, George, 1989. "Agricultural Supply During the Industrial Revolution: French Evidence and European Implications," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(01), pages 43-72, March.
  11. Dasgupta, Partha & Ray, Debraj, 1986. "Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(384), pages 1011-34, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Martin Uebele & Tim Grünebaum & Michael Kopsidis, 2013. "King's law and food storage in Saxony, c. 1790-1830," CQE Working Papers 2613, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster.

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