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  

Liam Brunt

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

E. S. Cannon

University of Bristol - Department of Economics

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Date Written: April 11, 2013

Abstract

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

Brunt, Liam and Cannon, E. S., The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth: The English Corn Returns as a Data Source in Economic History, 1770-1914 (April 11, 2013). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 09/2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2253242 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2253242

Liam Brunt (Contact Author)

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen, Hordaland
Norway

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Edmund Stuart Cannon

University of Bristol - Department of Economics ( email )

Senate House
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

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