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Harvest Shortfalls, Grain Prices, and Famines in Preindustrial England

Bruce M.S. Campbell and Grã Da, Cormac Ó
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Cormac Ó Gráda ()

The Journal of Economic History, 2011, vol. 71, issue 4, 859-886

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.

Date: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:71:y:2011:i:04:p:859-886_00