The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth: The English Corn Returns as a Data Source in Economic History, 1770-1914
52 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 11, 2013
From 1770 to 1914, the British Government collected weekly price and quantity data for all types of grain traded in many market towns; these ‘Corn Returns’ were published in the London Gazette. We computerised the data published 1770-1864, totalling around 6 million data points. Here we describe the nature of these data; discuss why, when and how they were collected; consider their accuracy and biases; describe how we computerised them; and offer caveats in using these – and similar – data. We highlight the problem of drawing valid inferences in the face of price impact from fluctuating grain quality and rising imports.
Keywords: grain prices, market institutions, data collection
JEL Classification: N53, Q130
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation