Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800-1940

Contents:

Author Info

  • Alan L. Olmstead
  • Paul W. Rhode

Abstract

The standard treatment of U.S. agriculture asserts that, before the 1930s, productivity growth was almost exclusively the result of mechanization rather than biological innovations. This paper shows that, to the contrary, U.S. wheat production witnessed a biological revolution during the 19th and early 20th centuries with wholesale changes in the varieties grown and cultural practices employed. Without these changes, vast expanses of the wheat belt could not have sustained commercial production and yields everywhere would have plummeted due to the increasing severity of insects, diseases, and weeds. Our revised estimates of Parker and Klein's productivity calculations indicate that biological innovations account for roughly one-half of labor productivity growth between 1839 and 1909.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8863.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8863.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Mar 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Olmstead, Alan L. and Paul W. Rhode. "The Red Queen And The Hard Reds: Productivity And Growth In American Wheat, 1800-1940," Journal of Economic History, 2002, v62(4,Dec), 929-966.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8863

Note: DAE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Parman, John, 2012. "Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 316-334.
  2. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2008. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy," NBER Working Papers 14142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation Of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation And American History," NBER Working Papers 18825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Pardey, Philip G. & Koo, Bonwoo & Nottenburg, Carol, 2004. "Creating, Protecting, And Using Crop Biotechnologies Worldwide In An Era Of Intellectual Property," Staff Papers 13600, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  5. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Magalhães, Eduardo C. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2002. "Assessing and attributing the benefits from varietal improvement research: evidence from Embrapa, Brazil," EPTD discussion papers 95, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Julian M. Alston & Will Martin & Philip G. Pardey, 2013. "Influences of Agricultural Technology on the Size and Importance of Food Price Variability," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Food Price Volatility National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2008. "Research Lags Revisited: Concepts and Evidence from U.S. Agriculture," Staff Papers 50091, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  8. Sharp, Paul & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2013. "Globalization revisited: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the eighteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 88-98.
  9. Wright, Brian D. & Pardey, Philip G. & Nottenburg, Carol & Koo, Bonwoo, 2007. "Agricultural Innovation: Investments and Incentives," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  10. Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1675-1727, November.
  11. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Magalhaes, Eduardo Castelo & Vosti, Stephen A., 2004. "International And Institutional R&D Spillovers: Attribution Of Benefits Among Sources For Brazil'S New Crop Varieties," Staff Papers 14017, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  12. Joseph Davis & Vanguard Group; Christopher Hanes, 2004. "Primary Sector Shocks and Early American Industrialization," 2004 Meeting Papers 154, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Mundlak, Yair, 2003. "Economic Growth: Lessons From Two Centuries Of American Agriculture," Discussion Papers 14986, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
  14. Lichtenberg, Erik, 2004. "Some Hard Truths About Agriculture and the Environment," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 33(1), April.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8863. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.