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An Arbitrage Model in Crop Rotation in 18th Century England

  • Liam Brunt
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    The Industrial Revolution in England was characterised by early and rapid labour release from agriculture to industry. This was facilitated by rising levels of labour productivity in agriculture which permitted labour to be released without excessive upward pressure on food prices. New technology played a central role in raising agricultural productivity but the importance of particular innovations remains controversial. In this paper we develop an arbitrage model of crop rotation which enables us to estimate the impact of crop rotation on wheat yields, requiring only the yields and prices of crops to be known. We apply this technique to eighteenth century English agriculture to assess the importance of two new crops in raising the yield of wheat (the primary agricultural output). Contrary to the received wisdom, we show that turnips substantially pushed up wheat yields but clover pushed down wheat yields. We confirm this result by comparing our estimates to both experimental data and production function estimates. Further detailed analysis facilitated by the new model enables us to explain this surprising result in terms of management practices pursued by farmers.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2268/DP32A4.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 1999-W32.

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    Date of creation: 01 Sep 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:1999-w32
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
    Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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    3. Liam Brunt, 1995. "Turning Water into Wine New Methods of Calculating Farm Output and New Insights into Rising Crop Yields during the Agricultural Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1995-W02, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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    15. Hans-Joachim Voth, 1997. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W21, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    16. Liam Brunt, 1997. "Nature or Nurture? Explaining English Wheat Yields in the Agricultural Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _019, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    17. David Stead, 1998. "An Arduous and Unprofitable Undertaking: The Enclosure of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W26, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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    19. Avner Offer, 1998. "Epidemicsof Abundance: Overeating and Slimming in the USA and Britain since the 1950s," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W25, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    20. Liam Brunt, 1997. "Nature or Nurture? Explaining English Wheat Yields in the Agricultural Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W19, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    21. Antonia Taddei, 1999. "London Clubs in the Late Nineteenth Century," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W28, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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