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Growth or stagnation? Farming in England, 1200–1800

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  • Gregory Clark

Abstract

Estimates of English income in Broadberry et al.’s British economic growth, 1270–1870 are founded upon a fourfold growth of farm output, and output per farm worker, over this interval. This article shows, using four separate tests, that farm output growth must have been much more limited. The tests are, first, whether in 1300 there was enough work at harvest to employ all the labour force; second, whether the value of output per worker in agriculture was greater than the annual earnings of workers; third, whether the implied relative outputs per acre of arable versus pasture were reasonable; and fourth, whether a much shorter medieval work year was possible. An alternative index of farm output consistent with the labour supply, wages, and farm rents is derived. This shows much less growth during the period 1270–1800. Overall economic growth in England during these years must consequently have been far less than Broadberry et al. estimate.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory Clark, 2018. "Growth or stagnation? Farming in England, 1200–1800," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 55-81, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:71:y:2018:i:1:p:55-81
    DOI: 10.1111/ehr.12528
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12528
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gregory CLARK, 2016. "Microbes and Markets: Was the Black Death an Economic Revolution?," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 139-165, June.
    2. Broadberry,Stephen & Campbell,Bruce M. S. & Klein,Alexander & Overton,Mark & van Leeuwen,Bas, 2015. "British Economic Growth, 1270–1870," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107676497.
    3. Rodney Edvinsson & Johan Söderberg, 2011. "A Consumer Price Index For Sweden, 1290–2008," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(2), pages 270-292, June.
    4. Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf, 2016. "Unreal Wages? A New Empirical Foundation for the Study of Living Standards and Economic Growth in England, 1260-1860," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _147, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Land Hunger: Land as a Commodity and as a Status Good, England, 1500-1910," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 59-82, January.
    6. Clark, Gregory & Werf, Ysbrand Van Der, 1998. "Work in Progress? The Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 830-843, September.
    7. Gregory Clark, 2001. "Farm Wages and Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution: England,1670–1869[This resea]," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 54(3), pages 477-505, August.
    8. Clark, Gregory, 1992. "The Economics of Exhaustion, the Postan Thesis, and the Agricultural Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 61-84, March.
    9. E. A. Wrigley, 2006. "The transition to an advanced organic economy: half a millennium of English agriculture1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(3), pages 435-480, August.
    10. M. M. Postan, 1962. "Village Livestock in the Thirteenth Century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 15(2), pages 219-249, December.
    11. Gregory Clark, 2007. "The long march of history: Farm wages, population, and economic growth, England 1209–18691," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(1), pages 97-135, February.
    12. Humphries, Jane & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2016. "Unreal Wages? A New Empirical Foundation for the Study of Living Standards and Economic Growth in England, 1260‐1860," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 310, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. Muldrew,Craig, 2011. "Food, Energy and the Creation of Industriousness," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521881852, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Broadberry & Bruce M. S. Campbell & Alexander Klein & Mark Overton & Bas van Leeuwen, 2018. "Clark's Malthus delusion: response to ‘Farming in England 1200–1800’," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(2), pages 639-664, May.

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