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Responding to Price Signals in Communal Agriculture: Shaker Hog Production, 1788-1850

John E. Murray and Metin Cosgel ()
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John E. Murray: University of Toledo

No 1997-03, Working papers from University of Connecticut, Department of Economics

Abstract: Isolated Shaker communal farms stressed self-sufficiency as an ideal but carefully chose which goods to buy and sell in external markets and which to produce and consume themselves. We use records of hog slaughter weights to investigate the extent to which the Shakers incorporated market-based price information in determining production levels of a consumption good which they did not sell in external markets: pork. Granger causality tests indicate that Shaker pork production decisions were influenced as hypothesized, strongly by corn prices and weakly by pork prices. We infer that attention to opportunity costs of goods that they produced and consumed themselves was a likely factor aiding the longevity of Shaker communal societies.

Date: 1997-11
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Published in Agricultural History, Summer 1998, 72(3): 552-73.

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Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1997-03