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The Heavy Plough and the Agricultural Revolution in Medieval Europe

Thomas Andersen, Peter Jensen () and Christian Skovsgaard ()

No 70, Working Papers from European Historical Economics Society (EHES)

Abstract: This research tests the long-standing hypothesis put forth by Lynn White, Jr. (1962) that the adoption of the heavy plough in Northern Europe was an important cause of economic development. White argued that it was impossible to take proper advantage of the fertile clay soils of Northern Europe prior to the invention and widespread adoption of the heavy plough. We implement the test in a difference-in-difference set-up by exploiting regional variation in the presence of fertile clay soils. Using a high quality dataset for Denmark, we find that historical counties with relatively more fertile clay soil experienced higher urbanization after the heavy plough had its breakthrough, which was around AD 1000. We obtain a similar result, when we extend the test to European regions

Keywords: Heavy plough; medieval technology; agricultural productivity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J1 N1 N93 O1 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 67 pages
Date: 2014-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-eff, nep-evo, nep-gro and nep-his
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Working Paper: The heavy plough and the agricultural revolution in medieval Europe (2013) Downloads
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