Were Free Southern Farmers "Driven to Indolence" by Slavery? A Stochastic Production Frontier Approach
Antebellum critics of slavery argued that it was responsible for the relative inefficiency of free southern farms. We examine this issue, employing a stochastic production function, which allows us to distinguish between technological superiority and technical inefficiency, and controlling for crop mix, which we treat as endogenous. We find that although large plantations enjoyed a technological advantage, slave farms were less efficient than free northern farms but more efficient than free southern farms. In addition, free southern farms were significantly less efficient than comparable northern farms.
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- Field, Elizabeth B, 1988. "The Relative Efficiency of Slavery Revisited: A Translog Production Function Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 543-49, June.
- Schaefer, Donald F., 1983. "The Effect of the 1859 Crop Year Upon Relative Productivity in the Antebellum Cotton South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 851-865, December.
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- Craig, Lee A., 1991. "The Value of Household Labor in Antebellum Northern Agriculture," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 67-81, March.
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