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An Arbitrage Model in Crop Rotation in 18th Century England

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  • Liam Brunt

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Liam Brunt, 1999. "An Arbitrage Model in Crop Rotation in 18th Century England," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W32, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:1999-w32
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2268/DP32A4.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Voth, Hans-Joachim, 1998. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 29-58, March.
    2. Allen, Robert C. & Ó Gráda, Cormac, 1988. "On the Road Again with Arthur Young: English, Irish, and French Agriculture during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 93-116, March.
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    5. Antonia Taddei, 1999. "London Clubs in the Late Nineteenth Century," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _028, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    6. Liam Brunt,, 1995. "Turning Water into Wine New Methods of Calculating Farm Output and New Insights into Rising Crop Yields during the Agricultural Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _002, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    7. Hans-Joachim Voth & Timothy Leunig, 1996. "Did smallpox reduce height? Stature and the standard of living in London, 1770-1873," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(3), pages 541-560, August.
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    9. Avner Offer, 1998. "Epidemics of Abundance: Overeating and Slimming in the USA and Britain since the 1950s," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _025, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    10. 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.
    11. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _012, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    12. 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.
    13. Avner Offer, 1996. "The American Automobile Frenzy of the 1950s," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W11, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    14. James Foreman-Peck,, 1996. "'Technological Lock-in' and the Power Source for the Motor Car," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _007, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    15. Ed Butchart, 1997. "Unemployment and Non-Employment in Interwar Britain," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _016, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    16. Antonia Taddei, 1999. "London Clubs in the Late Nineteenth Century," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W28, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    17. David Stead, 1998. "An Arduous and Unprofitable Undertaking: The Enclosure of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _026, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    18. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    19. 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.
    20. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Dryburgh, 2003. "Individual, Illegal, and Unjust Purposes': Overseers, Incentives, and the Old Poor Law in Bolton, 1820-1837," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _050, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    2. repec:oxf:wpaper:69.2 is not listed on IDEAS

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