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Variations in the price and quality of English grain, 1750–1914: Quantitative evidence and empirical implications

Listed author(s):
  • Brunt, Liam
  • Cannon, Edmund

Interpretation of historic grain price data may be hazardous owing to systematic grain quality variation — both cross sectionally and over varying time horizons (intra-year, inter-year, long run). We use the English wheat market, 1750–1914, as an example to quantify this issue. First, we show that bushel weight approximates grain quality. Then we show that cross sectional and intra-year variation are substantial and problematic, generating erroneous inference regarding market integration. Long run variation is significant, due to sharply declining international quality differentials, and this impacts estimated cost of living changes. By contrast, inter-year variation is smaller and controlled for more easily.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498315000285
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 58 (2015)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 74-92

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:58:y:2015:i:c:p:74-92
DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2015.06.001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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  1. Velkar,Aashish, 2012. "Markets and Measurements in Nineteenth-Century Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107023338, December.
  2. Liam Brunt & Edmund Cannon, 2004. "The Irish grain trade from the Famine to the First World War," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(1), pages 33-79, February.
  3. Liam Brunt & Edmund Cannon, 2013. "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: the English Corn Returns as a data source in economic history, 1770-1914," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 318-339, August.
  4. Carol H. Shiue & Wolfgang Keller, 2007. "Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1189-1216, September.
  5. 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.
  6. Jorg Baten & Dorothee Crayen & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2014. "Numeracy and the Impact of High Food Prices in Industrializing Britain, 1780–1850," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 418-430, July.
  7. William Hynes & David S. Jacks & Kevin H. O'rourke, 2012. "Commodity market disintegration in the interwar period," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 119-143, May.
  8. Persson, Karl Gunnar, 2004. "Mind the gap! Transport costs and price convergence in the nineteenth century Atlantic economy," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(02), pages 125-147, August.
  9. Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
  10. 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.
  11. Keller, Wolfgang & Shiue, Carol H., 2014. "Endogenous Formation of Free Trade Agreements: Evidence from the Zollverein's Impact on Market Integration," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(04), pages 1168-1204, December.
  12. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2003. "Hog-Round Marketing, Seed Quality, and Government Policy: Institutional Change in U.S. Cotton Production, 1920 1960," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 447-488, June.
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