IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14142.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Alan L. Olmstead
  • Paul W. Rhode

Abstract

The Cliometrics literature on slave efficiency has generally focused on static questions. We take a decidedly more dynamic approach. Drawing on the records of 142 plantations with 509 crops years, we show that the average daily cotton picking rate increased about four-fold between 1801 and 1862. We argue that the development and diffusion of new cotton varieties were the primary sources of the increased efficiency. These finding have broad implications for understanding the South's preeminence in the world cotton market, the pace of westward expansion, and the importance of indigenous technological innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2008. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy," NBER Working Papers 14142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14142
    Note: DAE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14142.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2002. "The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800–1940," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(04), pages 929-966, December.
    2. Metzer, Jacob, 1975. "Rational management, modern business practices, and economies of scale in the ante-bellum southern plantations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 123-150, April.
    3. Olmstead,Alan L. & Rhode,Paul W., 2008. "Creating Abundance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521857116, Fall.
    4. Wright, Gavin, 1979. "The Efficiency of Slavery: Another Interpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 219-226, March.
    5. Passell, Peter & Wright, Gavin, 1972. "The Effects of Pre-Civil War Territorial Expansion on the Price of Slaves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(6), pages 1188-1202, Nov.-Dec..
    6. Fogel, Robert W & Engerman, Stanley L, 1977. "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 275-296, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Charles W. Calomiris & Jonathan Pritchett, 2016. "Betting on Secession: Quantifying Political Events Surrounding Slavery and the Civil War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. repec:eee:exehis:v:67:y:2018:i:c:p:1-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Howard Bodenhorn, 2011. "Manumission in nineteenth-century Virginia," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 5(2), pages 145-164, June.
    4. Wright, Brian D., 2012. "Grand missions of agricultural innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(10), pages 1716-1728.
    5. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2014. "Were Antebellum Cotton Plantations Factories in the Field?," NBER Chapters,in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective, pages 245-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Scott A. Carson, 2018. "In Support of the Turner Hypothesis for the 19th Century American West: A Biological Response to Recent Criticisms," CESifo Working Paper Series 6969, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Conor Lennon, 2016. "Slave Escape, Prices, and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 669-695.
    8. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Andrei Markevich & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2017. "The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire," Working Papers w0237, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    10. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2010. "Productivity Growth and the Regional Dynamics of Antebellum Southern Development," NBER Working Papers 16494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14142. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.