The heavy plough and the agricultural revolution in medieval Europe
AbstractThis research tests the long-standing hypothesis, put forth by Lynn White, Jr. (1962), that the adoption of the heavy plough in northern Europe led to increased population density and urbanization. White argued that it was impossible to take proper advantage of the fertile clay soils of northern Europe before the invention and widespread adoption of the heavy plough. We implement the test in a difference-in-difference set-up by exploiting regional variation in the presence of fertile clay soils. Consistent with the hypothesis, we find that regions with relatively more fertile clay soil experienced increased urbanization and population after the plough had its breakthrough, which was approximately around the closing of the first millennium AD. We find that the heavy plough accounts for more than 10% of the increase in population density and urbanization during the high middle ages.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark in its series Discussion Papers of Business and Economics with number 6/2013.
Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: 08 Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
Phone: 65 50 32 33
Fax: 65 50 32 37
Web page: http://www.sdu.dk/ivoe
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Heavy plough; medieval technology; agricultural productivity;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
- N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
- N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- O10 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
- O33 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2013-03-16 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2013-03-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2013-03-16 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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- Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2014.
"Coal and the European Industrial Revolution,"
NBER Working Papers
19802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp439, IIIS.
- Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjorstshøj O’Rourke, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _124, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
- Fernihough, Alan & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 9819, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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