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Peasant Agriculture and Economic Growth: The Case of Southeast Europe c. 1870-1940 reinterpreted

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  • Michael Kopsidis

    () (Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO / Halle))

Abstract

Still in recent research a low productive peasant economy and traditional peasant society are often made responsible for Southeast Europe's economic backwardness prior to 1945. However, the radical change of paradigm after 1960 in the view of peasants as agents of economic growth and of their ability to adjust to markets has surprisingly never been realized in economic history research on the Balkan-states (Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece). Interpreting agricultural development as a mainly demand-driven process this paper argues that the potential for agricultural growth was much more restricted in Southeast than in Northwest Europe but Balkan peasants seem to have exploited their growth potential as far as possible. There is a lot of evidence that the reasons for sluggish growth before 1940 were definitely not rooted in any 'peasant traditionalism' as often claimed by Balkan elites and many scholars.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Kopsidis, 2012. "Peasant Agriculture and Economic Growth: The Case of Southeast Europe c. 1870-1940 reinterpreted," Working Papers 0028, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0028
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    File URL: http://ehes.org/EHES_No28.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kopsidis, Michael & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2012. "Agricultural Productivity Across Prussia During the Industrial Revolution: A Thünen Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 634-670, September.
    2. Christopher B. Barrett & Michael R. Carter & C. Peter Timmer, 2010. "A Century-Long Perspective on Agricultural Development," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(2), pages 447-468.
    3. Grantham, George, 1999. "Contra Ricardo: On the macroeconomics of pre-industrial economies," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 199-232, August.
    4. Otsuka, Keijiro & Hayami, Yujiro, 1988. "Theories of Share Tenancy: A Critical Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 31-68, October.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
    6. Hayami, Yujiro & Kawagoe, Toshihiko, 1989. "Farm mechanization, scale economies and polarization : The Japanese experience," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 221-239, October.
    7. Bromley, Daniel W., 2008. "Resource degradation in the African commons: accounting for institutional decay," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(05), pages 539-563, October.
    8. Yujiro Hayami, 1996. "The Peasant in Economic Modernization," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1157-1167.
    9. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "Trade and Poverty: When the Third World Fell Behind," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262015153, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Romania; Bulgaria; Yugoslavia; Greece; agricultural development; peasant economy;

    JEL classification:

    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N54 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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