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Giffen behaviour in Irish famine markets: an empirical study



There has been much contention among economists as to whether the potato in Irish markets during the Famine period is an example of a ‘Giffen’ good, but no price and quantity data from Ireland’s famine period has previously been unearthed to enable this to be systematically tested. Analysing high frequency price and quantity data for potatoes, wheat, barley, oats, and bacon pigs, collected from Cork market reports between 1842-49, this paper presents initial results which indicate that whilst potatoes, wheat, barley, and oats display normal characteristics during this period, the Cork markets for bacon pigs display some characteristics associated with Giffen-style behaviour. Further econometric analysis of the famine bacon pig market may therefore shed light upon the ‘Giffen’ phenomenon as well as market behaviour during famines.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Read, 2013. "Giffen behaviour in Irish famine markets: an empirical study," Working Papers 15, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmh:wpaper:15

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    Cited by:

    1. Zhu, Drew, 2016. "The Mechanism of Giffen Behaviour," MPRA Paper 75707, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Alfred Marshall; Robert Giffen; Giffen goods; Irish Famine; famine; potato; Ireland; Law of Demand; Microeconomic theory;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General

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