Conference Agenda

Summaries and basic information about congress panels. Please note that the panel identification numbers are provisional and that (pending the publication of the final program) they appear with a dummy date of celebration.

Session Overview
S118: Quantitative Agricultural History: institutions, markets and natural resources
Friday, 20/Jun/2025

Session Chair: Eva Fernández;
Session Chair: Miguel Martín-Retortillo;
Session Chair: Ana Serrano;

Session Abstract

The studies on quantitative agricultural history are becoming increasingly important. Many of these works deal with relevant themes on rural history: the impact of natural endowments and institutions in agricultural growth, the factors explaining productivity growth and agricultural development, the determinants of agricultural and food products trade, the spatial distribution of agricultural production and its consequences, the intensification in the use of inputs, the impact of economic activity on environment and the effects of agricultural policies.

This session means to be a forum for the discussion of works in all the fields of quantitative agricultural history. It mainly has two objectives. First, it aims to inform about the novel quantitative tools used in agricultural history. Thus, the audience will improve the knowledge of new analytical and methodological frameworks. Second, the session will advance in the assessment of the historical interrelations between agricultural outcomes and their main determinants from different fields. A detailed analysis of these dependencies will improve the interaction among the different branches in rural history, making joint progress in the understanding of agrarian systems, the historical context and the use of quantitative approaches.

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Explaining the presence and absence of Spanish farm cooperatives before 1936: a political economy approach

James Simpson, Juan Carmona

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

Economic historians have used a number of arguments to explain the presence or absence of farm cooperatives in Europe before the Second World War, including social capital, religion or culture, as well as more specific economic variables such as farm size and density, or crop specificity. However, the political economy behind the creation of a cooperative network is usually ignored, and in particular, which social and political groups had vested interests in promoting them.

The paper begins by providing a general background to Spain’s farm cooperatives and shows when rural elites, the Church, and political parties had few incentives to become involved in providing top-down help to create cooperative and federations. The rest of the paper considers regional experiences, and why the creation of cooperatives and farm associations was often very different in Old Castile and Navarra; the Mediterranean region (Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia); and Galicia.

People's Access to Land, Stuck in Agriculture, And Literacy Development: Evidence From the Modern Greek State (1860-1880)

Tryfonas Lemontzoglou

University of Siena (Italy)

The traditional institutional literature often suggests that highly complex and extreme heterogeneous patterns of land-ownership, as well as structural changes into the country’s production profile, seem to be strictly associated with economic growth, poverty reduction, and wealth creation issues. More specifically, the widespread perception among many economists that higher level of land-ownership concentration, combined with relative low degree of industrial development may result in a poorer level of schooling, has raised a lot of questions on the significant role that policy reforms and institutional changes can play in explaining regional economic disparities. Using a newly panel data set for the case of mid to late 19th century Greece, the main purpose of the present paper is to explore the possible effects of people’s access to land and delayed industrialization on literacy development. In fact, my panel data estimates (2SLS & GMM) confirm previous findings in the literature, indicating a positive and statistically significant relationship between literacy rate and people’s access to land. In addition, the negative impact of the supremacy of agriculture over industry on literacy expansion has also been effectively proved in my study.

‘A war of Man against locust’! Locust Invasions and anti-locust ‘innovations’ in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, 1918 – 1951

Peter Uledi

University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

This article traces the phenomenon of locust plagues in the Salisbury district of Southern Rhodesia, and delineates their impact on the colony’s agrarian economy. It explores state and farmer innovative attempts to deal with the scourge, and examines the efficacy of the various locust campaigns that were declared in an attempt to mitigate the otherwise deleterious impact of the scourge between 1918 and 1951. This subject has escaped the attention of scholars, most of whom focused on the problem of undercapitalisation, the impact of environmental challenges and the role of the colonial state in the development of commercial agriculture. Thus, i seek to fill these gaping lacunae in the agrarian historiography of colonial Zimbabwe, and examining the outcomes of these campaigns that were launched by the state in conjunction with farmers. Relying predominantly on archival sources, i argue that, the campaigns carried out during the period under review fell short on mitigating the impact of locust scourge in the country. It was only after the International Red Locust Services took a well-coordinated campaign that the locust scourge was brought under control.

The distribution of agrarian income: Spain, 1900 - 2015

Miguel Artola

Carlos III, United States of America

This paper tracks the distribution of agrarian income in Spain from 1900 to the present day as part of a broader project to study long-term trends in inequality. The first part of our paper relates to the functional distribution of income between land, labour and capital. Later, we decompose property income (land rents and capital income) between households, corporations and the public sector. Finally, we study the personal distribution of income and land ownership.

The main purpose of this paper is to clarify the definitions and methods used by agrarian historians. In this research, we have followed the present-day standards of the system of national accounts (SNA), although we also discuss the problems related in applying this classification to the past. We also study the accuracy and limitations of the most important sources used to reconstruct the distribution of agrarian income, such as the existing series on labour wages, land rents and the return on farm capital. Last, we explore the best alternatives to compute correctly the number of land owners through tax records and argue that instead of using property taxes, it is preferable to use the statistics of the Community Tax Certificate (1870-1942)

Overcoming geographical obstacles? Changes in Spanish agricultural production in the second half of the 20th century

Ignacio Cazcarro1, Miguel Martín-Retortillo2, Ana Serrano3

1BC3-Basque Centre for Climate Change – Klima Aldaketa Ikergai; 2Universidad de Alcalá; 3Universidad de Zaragoza

One of the main consequences of long term development processes has been the sustained growth of agricultural production and productivity. During the second half of the twentieth century the Spanish agricultural sector experienced intense changes that resulted in the transformation of the way that production was obtained and the structure of agricultural production. Some of these changes in Spanish perspective are a greater importance of the irrigated production, or the increase in the weight over the total production of high value added products, such as horticultural, fruit trees or olives (Cazcarro et al 2015a). In this framework, the objective of this paper is to analyse the changes in the agricultural production among the Spanish regions from 1950 onwards. More concretely, we aim to observe in which products the regions have specialized in a context of growing pressure on the water resources. This is an interesting case of study given the strong spatial differences in the level of rainfall in Spain together with the huge efforts to increase the irrigated land, especially in the most arid provinces (Cazcarro et al. 2015b).

Looking for the causes of the Spanish Forest Transition. A quantitative approach

Iñaki Iriarte Goñi, Maria Isabel Ayuda, Vicente Pinilla

Universidad de Zaragoza, España

As in other developed countries, forest cover grew in Spain during the second half of the 20th Century reaching more than 17 million hectares covered by trees or more than 28 millions hectares (around the 55% of the area of the whole country) if we add surfaces covered by scrubs and bushes. At a first glance, this trend fits quite well with the Forest Transition Theory (FTT). FTT predict four possible paths: the “economic development pathway” based on the raise of agrarian productivity; the “forest scarcity path” based in shortages of forest products acting as incentive for afforestation; the ““State Forest Policy Pathway” that estate a forest recovery guided by political interest of governments (not only economics); and the “globalization pathway” which poses the problem in the international arena, stating that forest products imports reduce pressure over national forests and this can reduce deforestation and even reinforce forest regrowth in net importing countries. In this general framework the aim of this work is to reconstruct some measurement for Spain at a provincial level making it possible to assess which one (if any) of the pathways proposed by FTT fit better with the case of the Spanish forest transition.

Factor Endowments and Farm Structure: A Regional Approach

Laura Maravall Buckwalter

Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Spain

The adaptation of crops, agricultural techniques, and farm size to the new environments ushered in by colonialism help identify the sources of long-term growth and development. This paper is a simplified approach to this adaptation process. It examines the relation between factor endowments (land and labor) and the process of settlement itself in the Constantine region at the beginning of the 1900s. The results demonstrate that the adoption of new agricultural methods on the frontier and later settled regions depended on the abundance of indigenous labor but required larger capital investment to offset the worse land quality, ultimately explaining the lower rural settler density levels.

Desempeño relativo de la productividad física de los sistemas ganaderos de Nueva Zelanda y Uruguay, 1870-2010

Jorge Ernesto Alvarez Scanniello

Universidad de la República, Uruguay, Uruguay

En el siglo XIX, Nueva Zelanda y Uruguay se insertaron en la economía mundial como productores y exportadores de bienes agrarios, especialmente bienes derivados de la ganadería, y se configuraron como sociedades de nuevo asentamiento europeo ricas en recursos naturales. Entre 1870 y 1970, en promedio, más del 70% de la exportaciones neozelandesas y más del 80% de las exportaciones uruguayas derivaron de la actividad ganadera.

El artículo busca identificar las principales tendencias del desempeño relativo de ambos sistemas ganaderos en el largo plazo, a partir de diversos indicadores básicos de producción (stock animal, superficie, producción de carne, lana y leche) y de indicadores sintéticos de productividad física de la tierra como las unidades ganadera y la carne equivalente por hectárea. Adicionalmente se realiza una revisión crítica de los supuestos y métodos de cálculo de los indicadores sintéticos y se proponen una serie de correcciones que buscan mejorar su potencial explicativo.

El análisis de los resultados se realiza considerando la diversidad regional de cada sistema ganadero y los procesos de convergencia-divergencia de la productividad ganadera de ambos países. Los resultados sirven de base para el análisis de los procesos de cambio tecnológico y sus trayectorias en el largo plazo.

Intensificación agraria en la Galicia de los siglos XVIII-XIX: cambios productivos y disponibilidad de biomasa en los inicios de la transición socioecológica. Una aproximación biofísica al fenómeno migratorio

Beatriz Corbacho González

USC, España

Esta comunicación aborda los cambios productivos en un caso de agricultura atlántica gallega (Fonsagrada) durante los siglos XVIII-XIX, y establece su relación con el fenómeno migratorio mediante el análisis de cuestiones biofísicas como la disponibilidad y la demanda de biomasa en un contexto de agotamiento de la agricultura orgánica avanzada. Los cambios productivos desarrollados en el período permitieron sostener a una población creciente si bien dicho proceso resultó en una ruptura de los equilibrios ambientales previos y en una expulsión de población debido al empeoramiento de las condiciones de vida, traducido en una menor disponibilidad relativa de alimentos. Esta propuesta pone el acento en cuestiones ambientales y biofísicas y relaciona la transición socioecológica de un metabolismo orgánico a uno industrial con el fenómeno migratorio en Galicia. La investigación se sustenta en el marco teórico del metabolismo social y aplica la metodología de balances de nutrientes con sus correspondientes estimaciones de aspectos biofísicos como la disponibilidad y demanda de biomasa para consumo humano y animal.




We are interested in analyzing how the international wine market was built, based on the commercial flows that took place. In this international market France played a decisive role. This country ended up specializing in the export of high quality wine, while importing ordinary wine. The relevant exporters of low-quality wine were Spain and Italy, and later Algeria.

Our objective is, consequently, to study the main determinants of the world wine trade between 1850 and 1938. To do this and, following Feenstra et al. (1998 and 2001) and Schumacher and Siliverstovs (2006), we use a gravity equation à la Bergstrand (1989) that includes “multilateral resistance” as suggested by Anderson and van Wincoop (2004), to examine the principal causes underlying the evolution and changes in the directions of World wine exports.

World wine export flows were reconstructed annually in volume terms between 1850 and 1938 for Algeria, France, Italy and Spain from national foreign trade statistics. The quantities of wine exported each year to each destination in hectoliters, have been multiplied by their respective price (unit value of exports) in 1913. The wine exported by these countries accounted for more than 75% of world exports in the period analyzed.

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