The landlord lag – productivity on peasant farms and landlord demesnes during the agricultural revolution in Sweden 1700–1860

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T1 - The landlord lag – productivity on peasant farms and landlord demesnes during the agricultural revolution in Sweden 1700–1860

AU - Olsson, Mats

AU - Svensson, Patrick

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - In a longstanding debate among economic historians about the role of the peasants and the manors in the agrarian transformation, a variety of qualitative and quantitative indicators have been used, but no one has until now been able to compare the actual production outcomes. In this paper, we investigate the land productivity development for manorial demesnes and peasant farmers, respectively, over the course of the agricultural revolution. The sources used are unique in an international perspective and consists of tithes on individual farm level for 34 parishes in Scania, covering over 2500 peasant farms, which are compared with production data for 20 manorial demesnes. The study generates vital information on the process of agricultural transformation and its leading actors. We assess the implications of the productivity development for the total production, and the spectacular growth in this under the agricultural revolution, by calculating production and surplus among the different types of cultivators. Our results show that the landlords gained a small advantage in the middle of the 1700s, but in the century to come, they lagged behind in terms of land productivity. A large peasantry cultivating the majority of the land did not constitute an obstacle to growth, but rather the reverse.

AB - In a longstanding debate among economic historians about the role of the peasants and the manors in the agrarian transformation, a variety of qualitative and quantitative indicators have been used, but no one has until now been able to compare the actual production outcomes. In this paper, we investigate the land productivity development for manorial demesnes and peasant farmers, respectively, over the course of the agricultural revolution. The sources used are unique in an international perspective and consists of tithes on individual farm level for 34 parishes in Scania, covering over 2500 peasant farms, which are compared with production data for 20 manorial demesnes. The study generates vital information on the process of agricultural transformation and its leading actors. We assess the implications of the productivity development for the total production, and the spectacular growth in this under the agricultural revolution, by calculating production and surplus among the different types of cultivators. Our results show that the landlords gained a small advantage in the middle of the 1700s, but in the century to come, they lagged behind in terms of land productivity. A large peasantry cultivating the majority of the land did not constitute an obstacle to growth, but rather the reverse.

KW - Agriculture

KW - Sweden

KW - peasant farmers

KW - landlords

KW - productivity

KW - N53

KW - N93

KW - O43

KW - Q15

U2 - 10.1080/03585522.2015.1123767

DO - 10.1080/03585522.2015.1123767

M3 - Article

VL - 64

SP - 55

EP - 71

JO - Scandinavian Economic History Review

JF - Scandinavian Economic History Review

SN - 1750-2837

IS - 1

ER -