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Clark’s Malthus delusion: response to ‘Farming in England 1200-1800’

Broadberry, Stephen, Campbell, Bruce, Klein, Alexander, Overton, Mark, van Leeuwen, Bas (2018) Clark’s Malthus delusion: response to ‘Farming in England 1200-1800’. The Economic History Review, 71 (2). pp. 639-664. ISSN 0013-0117. E-ISSN 1468-0289. (doi:10.1111/ehr.12694) (KAR id:64424)

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Clark’s claims about the scale of English agricultural output from the 1200s to the 1860s flout historical and geographical reality. His income-based estimates start with the daily real wages of adult males and assume that days worked per year were constant. Those advanced in British economic growth (BEG) make no such assumption and instead are built up from the output side. They correlate better with population trends and are consistent with an economy slowly growing and becoming richer. Clark’s denial that such growth occurred, his assertion that substantially more land must have been under arable cultivation, his belief that conditions of full employment invariably prevailed in the countryside at harvest time, his concern that the wage bill would have exceeded the value of output in BEG, his refusal to consider the possibility that the working year was of variable length, and his assertion that output per acre must have been equalised across arable and pasture are all shown to be figments of his ‘Malthus delusion’.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/ehr.12694
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Alexander Klein
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2017 08:56 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 15:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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