Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 6/2015: Variations in the price and quality of English grain, 1750-1914:quantitative evidence and empirical implications.

Liam Brunt () and Edmund Cannon ()
Additional contact information
Liam Brunt: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Edmund Cannon: University of Bristol, Postal: University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, England

Abstract: Interpretation of historic grain price data may be hazardous owing to systematic grain quality variation – both cross sectionally and over varying time horizons (intra-year, inter-year, long run). We use the English wheat market, 1750-1914, as an example to quantify this issue. First, we show that bushel weight approximates grain quality. Then we show that cross sectional and intra-year variation are substantial and problematic, generating erroneous inference regarding market integration. Long run variation is significant, due to sharply declining international quality differentials, and this impacts estimated cost of living changes. By contrast, inter-year variation is smaller and controlled for more easily.

Keywords: Grain quality; markets; cost of living.

JEL-codes: N01; N50; Q13

22 pages, March 27, 2015

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