Discussion Paper Series in Economics, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: the English Corn Returns as a data source in economic history, 1770-1914.
() and Edmund Cannon
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; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: N53; Q13; (follow links to similar papers)
30 pages, April 18, 2013
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