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Cultural persistence as behavior towards risk: evidence from the North Carolina Cherokees, 1850-1880

Listed author(s):
  • Gregg, Matthew T.

Can economic theory help explain the persistence of a cultural enclave among the Cherokee Indians living in North Carolina during the nineteenth century? To date, Fogelson and Kutsche (1961) and Finger (1984) identify the continuation of a communal, labor-sharing agricultural institution called the gadugi as simply an example of Cherokee agency during a period of substantial upheaval. I contribute to the historiography on ancestral labor traditions by adopting Kimball's (1988) framework on the function of farming cooperatives to test whether this arrangement sprung up as a form of insurance against the idiosyncratic risk inherent in southern agriculture. Data collected from the 1850-1880 manuscript census returns on North Carolina Cherokee farms are used to compute the variance of household self-sufficiency, which appears substantial enough to warrant a non-market mechanism to pool risk.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 33915.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
Publication status: Published in Journal of Income Distribution 2.18(2009): pp. 3-15
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33915
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  1. Weiman, David F., 1987. "Farmers and the Market in Antebellum America: A View from the Georgia Upcountry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 627-647, September.
  2. Bogue, Allan G., 1987. "To Their Own Soil: Agriculture in the Antebellum North. By Jeremy Atack and Fred Bateman. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1987. Pp. xi, 322. $29.95," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 1050-1051, December.
  3. Kurosaki, Takashi & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2002. "Insurance market efficiency and crop choices in Pakistan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 419-453, April.
  4. Cain, Louis P., 1992. "General and Miscellaneous Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel. Edited by Claudia Goldin and Hugh Rockoff. Chicago: The University of Ch," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 979-982, December.
  5. Kimball, Miles S, 1988. "Farmers' Cooperatives as Behavior Toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 224-232, March.
  6. Shively, Gerald E., 1999. "Risks and returns from soil conservation: evidence from low-income farms in the Philippines," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 21(1), August.
  7. Howard Bodenhorn & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Regional Interest Rates in Antebellum America," NBER Chapters,in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 159-187 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hutchinson, William. K. & Williamson, Samuel, 1971. "The Self-Sufficiency of the Antebellum South: Estimates of the Food Supply," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 591-612, September.
  9. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1976. "Risk, transaction costs, and the organization of medieval agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 129-151, April.
  10. Fafchamps, Marcel & Pender, John, 1997. "Precautionary Saving, Credit Constraints, and Irreversible Investment: Theory and Evidence from Semiarid India," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(2), pages 180-194, April.
  11. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
  12. Richardson, Gary, 2005. "The Prudent Village: Risk Pooling Institutions in Medieval English Agriculture," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 386-413, June.
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