The primary factor determining the rate of economic growth in 18th-century British America was the pace of improvement in agricultural productivity. This paper examines agricultural productivity advance in the Lower South between 1720 and 1800. We extend and refine previous measures based on export performance, and offer new productivity measures based on the real value of slave labor, and total agricultural production in the region. Despite differences in their short-term behavior, all of the indices show that long-run productivity improvements were modest at best, and may have been negative. Surprisingly, taking account of production for domestic consumption yields the most favorable long-term performance. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
Mancall, PC; Rosenbloom, JL; Weiss, T. Agricultural labor productivity in the Lower South, 1720-1800. EXPLORATIONS IN ECONOMIC HISTORY. Oct 2002. 39 (4) : 390-424.