Harvest Shortfalls, Grain prices, and Famines in Preindustrial England

Bruce M. S. Campbell, Cormac Ó Gráda

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    Abstract

    The frequency of bad harvests and price elasticity of demand are measured using new data on English grain yields 1268–1480 and 1750–1850 and a revised price series. The analysis shows that major harvest shortfalls were a significant component of most historical subsistence crises, as back-to-back shortfalls were of the worst famines. Although serious harvest shortfalls long remained an unavoidable fact of economic life, by c.1800 yields had become less variable and prices less harvest sensitive. By the eve of the Industrial Revolution, England had become effectively famine-free.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)859-886
    Number of pages28
    JournalThe Journal of Economic History
    Volume71
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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