March 20, 2009
North, Douglass C. (1959) “Agriculture and Regional Economic Growth”, Journal of Farm Economics, 41/5, 943-951.
“There seems to be agreement amongst economist that agriculture contributes little to economic growth”. Worse it may even delay development as agricultural comparative advantage may attract production factors away from the most moderns sectors of the economy. At best, progress in agriculture is seen as a consequence rather than a cause of urban and industrial development (p.943). But the author argues that “the successful production of agricultural (or indeed most extractive) commodities for sale [outside of] the region can be and under certain conditions has been the prime influence inducing economic growth […] and eventually industrial development”. Read the rest of this entry »
January 17, 2009
Carville Earle and Hoffman Ronald (Dec. 1980) “The Foundation of the Modern Economy: Agriculture and the Costs of Labor in the United States and England, 1800-60” The American Historical Review 85/5: 1055-1094.
Traditionally (so-called Habakkuk thesis), labour shortage is said to be the cause of the mechanization of the American agriculture in the early 19th century. The authors have compared the Northern grain-belt, the South slave-based and the English agriculture to check that claim. In the North (monoculture), extensive use of labour was only necessary for the harvest, which created an available and cheap workforce for the urban industries, and allowed savings to be invested in mechanized agriculture. In England (diversified agriculture) and in the South, the labour season took most of the year hence the wages were going up. In the English case it hindered the use of machinery in the agriculture and in the South the industrial take off all together. Read the rest of this entry »