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The heavy plough and the agricultural revolution in medieval Europe

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

No 6/2013, Discussion Papers of Business and Economics from University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics

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 led to increased population density and urbanization. White argued that it was impossible to take proper advantage of the fertile clay soils of northern Europe before 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. Consistent with the hypothesis, we find that regions with relatively more fertile clay soil experienced increased urbanization and population after the plough had its breakthrough, which was approximately around the closing of the first millennium AD. We find that the heavy plough accounts for more than 10% of the increase in population density and urbanization during the high middle ages.

Keywords: Heavy plough; medieval technology; agricultural productivity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J10 N10 N93 O10 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 54 pages
Date: 2013-03-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-his
References: View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (12) Track citations by RSS feed

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Working Paper: The Heavy Plough and the Agricultural Revolution in Medieval Europe (2014) Downloads
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