Clark's Malthus Delusion: Response to 'Farming in England 1200–1800'

26 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2018

See all articles by Stephen Broadberry

Stephen Broadberry

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine

Bruce M.S. Campbell

Queen's University Belfast

Alexander Klein

University of Kent - Canterbury Campus

Mark Overton

University of Exeter

Bas van Leeuwen

Utrecht University, Humanities; Free University, Humanities; Warwick University, Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

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 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 British economic growth, his refusal to consider the possibility that the working year was of variable length, and his assertion that output per acre must have been equalized across arable and pasture are all shown to be figments of his 'Malthus delusion'.

Suggested Citation

Broadberry, Stephen and Campbell, Bruce M.S. and Klein, Alexander and Overton, Mark and van Leeuwen, Bas, Clark's Malthus Delusion: Response to 'Farming in England 1200–1800' (May 2018). The Economic History Review, Vol. 71, Issue 2, pp. 639-664, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3164646 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12694

Stephen Broadberry (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College of Medicine ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

Bruce M.S. Campbell

Queen's University Belfast

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Alexander Klein

University of Kent - Canterbury Campus ( email )

Keynes College
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP
United Kingdom

Mark Overton

University of Exeter

Bas Van Leeuwen

Utrecht University, Humanities ( email )

Vredenburg 138
Utrecht, 3511 BG
Netherlands

Free University, Humanities ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

Warwick University, Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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