Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy
AbstractThe Cliometrics literature on slave efficiency has generally focused on static questions. We take a decidedly more dynamic approach. Drawing on the records of 142 plantations with 509 crops years, we show that the average daily cotton picking rate increased about four-fold between 1801 and 1862. We argue that the development and diffusion of new cotton varieties were the primary sources of the increased efficiency. These finding have broad implications for understanding the South's preeminence in the world cotton market, the pace of westward expansion, and the importance of indigenous technological innovation.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14142.
Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Publication status: published as Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2008. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 1123-1171, December.
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- Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2008. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 1123-1171, December.
- J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
- N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
- N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
- O3 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-07-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-EFF-2008-07-05 (Efficiency & Productivity)
- NEP-HIS-2008-07-05 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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- Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2002.
"The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800 1940,"
The Journal of Economic History,
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