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Title:Strategies for Commercialization: Missouri Agriculture, 1860-1880
Author(s):Gregson, Mary Eschelbach
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Atack, Jeremy
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Economics, General
Economics, History
Abstract:The conventional wisdom that commercialization fostered specialization, in the aggregate and on the farm, is not confirmed by farm-level evidence. I create a linked sample of rural farms and households from the 1860, 1870 and 1880 population and agricultural censuses of Missouri, and add data from local property tax records in order to document and model farmers' production strategies for commercialization. The story of agricultural change in Missouri during the post-Civil War period is not one of commercialization creating opportunities for farmers to specialize. Instead, it is the story of commercialization fostering diversification.
I develop a model of endowment-contingent crop choice that explains why Missouri farmers chose to diversify as marketing costs fell and commercialization progressed. The decline in marketing costs during the late nineteenth century, other things equal, meant that soil suitability became a more important determinant of the most profitable use of land. In areas with heterogeneous soil and topology such as my Missouri sample, the model predicts that farmers would diversify as they commercialize. Moreover, my model reconciles the farm-level evidence with the macro story of comparative advantage and provides a testable hypothesis for explaining the pattern of agricultural development in other places and at other times.
Issue Date:1993
Description:258 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329047
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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