The Economic History Review

Prices and structural response in English agriculture, 1873–1896

Volume 50 Issue 3
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Pages: 477-505Authors: S.J. Pam, E.H. Hunt
Published online: January 22, 2003DOI: 10.1111/1468-0289.00065

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This article examines an agricultural dimension of the `entrepreneurial failure’ debate. It is often claimed that structural change in agriculture was retarded by the conservatism of agriculturalists in the south east who, allegedly, persisted with corn when price changes signalled a switch to meat and dairying. Existing price series and the price evidence as it appeared to farmers and landlords at the time are re-examined and shown to be neither clear nor consistent. The evidence suggests that contrasts in the fortunes of livestock and arable farmers have been exaggerated and that in this respect, even if not others, arable farmers were less irrational than their critics suppose.