The growth of labor productivity in early modern English agriculture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The distinctive feature of English agricultural development was the rapid growth in labor productivity. This paper explains that growth in terms of the rise in grain yields and reductions in employment due to the increase in farm size. Estate surveys and the land tax assessments are used to measure changes in farm size over the 17th and 18th centuries. Data collected by Arthur Young are used to assess the implications of farm size for employment. The reasons large farms were able to economize on labor are explored. The estate surveys, Young's data, and estimates of crop yields are used to simulate labor productivity in English agriculture from 1600 to 1800. The implied growth in efficiency is consistent with independent estimates of the increase and with estimates of English productivity in comparison with French and Russian performances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-146
Number of pages30
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'The growth of labor productivity in early modern English agriculture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this