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Agricultural development during early industrialization in a low-wage economy: Saxony, c. 1790-1830

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Kopsidis

    () (Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and East-ern Europe (IAMO))

  • Ulrich Pfister

    () (University of Muenster)

Abstract

The characteristics of regional paths of industrialization had a deep impact on agricultural development during early industrialization in Germany. From 1840 rising incomes in the course of a “high wage-low energy cost” industrialization based on coal and steel and a rapid urbanization triggered a demand driven agricultural revolution in Northwest Germany. In contrast, Saxony’s early industrialization c. 1800-1860 followed a “low wage-high energy cost” trajectory based on textile production and slow urbanization. The low level and slow growth of income meant that up to 1830 the adaptation of agricultural innovations neither followed demand impulses transmitted through markets, nor did they facilitate inter-regional specialization according to comparative advantage. Rather, regional agriculture ac-commodated to population growth by expanding the cultivation of subsistence crops, mainly potatoes, probably at the detriment of animal husbandry. Whereas the increase of sown area indicates an intensification of land use yield ratios remained at best stable between the early 1790s and the late 1820s. Hence, local supply could barely cope with population growth, and since grain market integration did not evolve over time imports did not com-pensate for the shortcomings of domestic production. Our evidence of a deteriorating food standard goes a long way toward explaining the decline of the biological standard of living during Saxony’s early industrialization.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Kopsidis & Ulrich Pfister, 2013. "Agricultural development during early industrialization in a low-wage economy: Saxony, c. 1790-1830," Working Papers 0039, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0039
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kopsidis, Michael & Hockmann, Heinrich, 2010. "Technical change in Westphalian peasant agriculture and the rise of the Ruhr, circa 1830–1880," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 209-237, August.
    2. Kopsidis Michael, 2002. "The Creation of a Westphalian Rye Market 1820-1870: Leading and Following Regions, a Co-Integration Analysis," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 43(2), pages 85-112, December.
    3. Dasgupta, Partha & Ray, Debraj, 1987. "Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 177-188, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agriculture and industrialization; regional specialization; Agricultural Revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices

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