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Agricultural Labor Productivity in the Lower South, 1720-1800

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  • Peter C. Mancall
  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom
  • Thomas Weiss

Abstract

Agriculture dominated the economy of eighteenth-century British America, and the pace of agricultural productivity advance was the primary determinant of the rate of economic growth. In this paper we offer new measures of agricultural productivity advance in the Lower South between 1720 and 1800. Past efforts and quantification have focused exclusively on the region's export performance. In addition to extending and refining measures of regional exports, we develop two new series based on the value of slave labor and on measurements of total agricultural production in the region. Despite differences in their short-term behavior, all of the indices show that long-run productivity improvements were modest at best, and may have been negative. Surprisingly, taking account of production for domestic consumption yields the most favorable long-term performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter C. Mancall & Joshua L. Rosenbloom & Thomas Weiss, 2001. "Agricultural Labor Productivity in the Lower South, 1720-1800," NBER Working Papers 8375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8375
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    5. Thomas Weiss, 1991. "Long Term Changes in U.S. Agricultural Output per Worker, 1800 to 1900," NBER Historical Working Papers 0023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. R. C. Nash, 2010. "South Carolina indigo, European textiles, and the British Atlantic economy in the eighteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 362-392, May.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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