Time on the Ladder: Career Mobility in Agriculture, 1890-1938
AbstractWe explore the dynamics of the agricultural ladder (the progression from laborer to cropper to renter) in the U.S. before 1940 using individual-level data from a survey of farmers conducted in 1938 in Jefferson County, Arkansas. Using information on each individual's complete career history (their tenure status at each date, in some cases as far back as 1890), their location, and a variety of their personal and farm characteristics, we develop and test hypotheses to explain the time spent as a tenant, sharecropper, and wage laborer. The pessimistic view of commentators who saw sharecropping and tenancy as a trap has some merit, but individual characteristics played an important role in mobility. In all periods, some farmers moved up the agricultural ladder quite rapidly while others remained stuck on a rung. Ascending the ladder was an important route to upward mobility, particularly for blacks, before large-scale migration from rural to urban places.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11231.
Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Other versions of this item:
- Alston, Lee J. & Ferrie, Joseph P., 2005. "Time on the Ladder: Career Mobility in Agriculture, 1890 1938," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 1058-1081, December.
- N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
- N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
- J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2005-04-03 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2005-04-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2005-04-03 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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