What'S Space Got To Do With It? Distance And Agricultural Productivity Before The Railway Age
Owing to the high cost of transporting farm produce before the railway age, the land-intensiveness of European mixed farming caused both production and consumption of foodstuffs and intermediate farm inputs in the steady state to be highly dispersed, a spatial configuration offering weak inducement to reorganize farm structure or to invest available labour and capital with a view to increasing output. In such conditions the most common cause of rising agricultural productivity was spatial concentration of demand, which raised the demand price of farm produce and farm inputs within the privileged space bounded by discontinuities in the cost of land transport. The ultimate cause of observed changes in agricultural productivity before the nineteenth century must therefore be sought outside the farming sector in the development of markets for tradable manufactures, tradable services, and the economies of scale in their provision that supported spatial concentration of population.
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