IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v100y1985i4p1191-1215..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

A History of Mechanization in the Cotton South: The Institutional Hypothesis

Author

Listed:
  • Warren C. Whatley

Abstract

The Cotton South has always lagged behind the rest of American agriculture in the use and development of large-scale machinery. This paper formalizes an idea often found in the historical literature in loosely specified form which argues that the institutional structure of the southern plantation economy caused this technological inertia. In particular, the Institutional Hypothesis argues that the annual labor contracts used to secure plantation labor discouraged partial mechanization and inventive activity by redirecting the impact of higher labor costs away from the development and adoption of labor saving machinery and toward the adoption of small unmechanizable tenancies. This hypothesis is modeled, and supporting evidence is presented. Its larger implications are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Warren C. Whatley, 1985. "A History of Mechanization in the Cotton South: The Institutional Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1191-1215.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:4:p:1191-1215.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/1885680
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 267-293, March.
    2. Price V. Fishback & John Joseph Wallis, 2012. "What Was New About the New Deal?," NBER Working Papers 18271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Paul A. David, "undated". "Zvi Griliches and the Economics of Technology Diffusion: Adoption of Innovations, Investment Lags, and Productivity Growth," Discussion Papers 09-016, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, revised Mar 2010.
    4. Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ananth Seshadri, 2014. "Frictionless Technology Diffusion: The Case of Tractors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1368-1391, April.
    5. Daniel P. Gross, 2018. "Scale versus scope in the diffusion of new technology: evidence from the farm tractor," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 49(2), pages 427-452, June.
    6. Richard Hornbeck & Suresh Naidu, 2014. "When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 963-990, March.
    7. Carter, Michael R. & Kalfayan, John, 1987. "An Economic Model of Agrarian Structure in Latin America," Staff Papers 200457, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    8. Lew, Byron, 2000. "The Diffusion of Tractors on the Canadian Prairies: The Threshold Model and the Problem of Uncertainty," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 189-216, April.
    9. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W, 2003. "The Productivity of US States since 1880," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 73-114, March.
    10. Suresh Naidu, 2008. "Recruitment Restrictions and labor markets: evidence from the post-bellum U.S. south," Working Papers 1114, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    11. Dempster, Gregory M. & Isaacs, Justin P., 2014. "Structural change in the U.S. economy: 1850–1900," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 112-123.
    12. Richard Pomfret, 2000. "State-Directed Diffusion of Technology: The Mechanization of Cotton-Farming in Soviet Central Asia," School of Economics Working Papers 2000-03, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    13. Suresh Naidu, 2008. "Recruitment Restrictions and labor markets: evidence from the post-bellum U.S. south," Working Papers 1114, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    14. Suresh Naidu, 2010. "Recruitment Restrictions and Labor Markets: Evidence from the Postbellum U.S. South," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 413-445, April.
    15. Billy Dickens, 1998. "Black unemployment: Part of unskilled unemployment," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 91-94, June.

    More about this item

    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:oup:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:4:p:1191-1215.. 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: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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.