IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/cup/jechis/v62y2002i04p929-966_00.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

Listed:
  • Olmstead, Alan L.
  • Rhode, Paul W.

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.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • 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, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(04), pages 929-966, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:62:y:2002:i:04:p:929-966_00
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0022050702001602
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Introduction to "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860"," NBER Chapters,in: Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860, pages 1-5 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg00-1.
    3. Fishback, Price V. & Kantor, Shawn Everett, 1992. "“Square Deal” or Raw Deal? Market Compensation for Workplace Disamenities, 1884–1903," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 826-848, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Working Papers 14686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Philip G. Pardey & Julian M. Alston & Connie Chan-Kang & Eduardo C. Magalhães & Stephen A. Vosti, 2006. "International and Institutional R&D Spillovers: Attribution of Benefits among Sources for Brazil's New Crop Varieties," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(1), pages 104-123.
    3. Richard Hornbeck, 2010. "Barbed Wire: Property Rights and Agricultural Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 767-810.
    4. Izdebski, Adam & Koloch, Grzegorz & Słoczyński, Tymon & Tycner, Marta, 2016. "On the use of palynological data in economic history: New methods and an application to agricultural output in Central Europe, 0–2000AD," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 17-39.
    5. 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.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 1-42, May.
    7. Lichtenberg, Erik, 2004. "Some Hard Truths About Agriculture and the Environment," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 24-33, April.
    8. 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).
    9. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2010. "The Economics of Innovation and Technical Change in Agriculture," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    10. 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.
    11. Joseph Davis & Vanguard Group; Christopher Hanes, 2004. "Primary Sector Shocks and Early American Industrialization," 2004 Meeting Papers 154, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. 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.
    13. Brunt, Liam & Cannon, Edmund, 2015. "Variations in the price and quality of English grain, 1750–1914: Quantitative evidence and empirical implications," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 74-92.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. Wright, Brian D. & Pardey, Philip G. & Nottenburg, Carol & Koo, Bonwoo, 2007. "Agricultural Innovation: Investments and Incentives," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
    17. 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.
    18. Julian M. Alston & William J. Martin & Philip G. Pardey, 2014. "Influences of Agricultural Technology on the Size and Importance of Food Price Variability," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Food Price Volatility, pages 13-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation Of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation And American History," NBER Working Papers 18825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:62:y:2002:i:04:p:929-966_00. 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: (Keith Waters). General contact details of provider: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_JEH .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.