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Prices and Production: Agricultural Supply Response in Fourteenth-Century England

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  • Eric Schneider

Abstract

This paper challenges the growing consensus in the literature (Stone, 2005; Dodds, 2007) that medieval English peasants and manorial managers were price responsive in their production decisions. Using prices of and acreages planted with wheat, barley, and oats of 49 manors held by the bishop of Winchester from 1349-70, we estimate price elasticities of supply for each grain in aggregate and on each particular manor. Aggregate price elasticities of supply for wheat and oats were not significantly different than zero, and barley aggregate elasticities of supply were significant but very low. These elasticities are low compared with price elasticities of supply estimated for developing and developed countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Attempting to explain the variation in the estimated price elasticities for individual manors, market concentration had a significant, positive effect on price elasticities of wheat and oat supply. In the end, the low levels of price responsiveness in the post-Black Death period suggest that commercialisation was not as dominant in the medieval English economy as has been argued. Thus, the institutional and structural changes highlighted by Marxist and Neo-Malthusian historians may need to take a more prominent role in explanations of medieval economic change.

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  • Eric Schneider, 2012. "Prices and Production: Agricultural Supply Response in Fourteenth-Century England," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _097, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:esohwp:_097
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Delabastita & Sebastiaan Maes, 2020. "The Feudal Origins of Manorial Prosperity in 11th-century England," Working Papers 0190, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Schneider, Eric B., 2013. "Real wages and the family: Adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 99-115.
    3. Aled Davies, 2012. "The Evolution of British Monetarism: 1968-1979," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _104, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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