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Harvest Shortfalls, Grain Prices, and Famines in Preindustrial England

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  • CAMPBELL, BRUCE M.S.
  • GRÁDA, CORMAC Ó

Abstract

The frequency of bad harvests and price elasticity of demand are measured using new data on English grain yields 1268–1480 and 1750–1850 and a revised price series. The analysis shows that major harvest shortfalls were a significant component of most historical subsistence crises, as back-to-back shortfalls were of the worst famines. Although serious harvest shortfalls long remained an unavoidable fact of economic life, by c.1800 yields had become less variable and prices less harvest sensitive. By the eve of the Industrial Revolution, England had become effectively famine-free.

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  • Campbell, Bruce M.S. & Gráda, Cormac Ó, 2011. "Harvest Shortfalls, Grain Prices, and Famines in Preindustrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(04), pages 859-886, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:71:y:2011:i:04:p:859-886_00
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Broadberry, Stephen & Campbell, Bruce M.S. & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 16-27.
    3. Martin Uebele & Tim Grünebaum & Michael Kopsidis, 2013. "King's law and food storage in Saxony, c. 1790-1830," CQE Working Papers 2613, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster.

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