Agricultural Productivity in the Early Ottoman Empire

Agricultural Productivity in the Early Ottoman Empire

By Metin Cosgel

XIV International Economic History Congress (2006)

Abstract: This paper provides standardized estimates of labor productivity in arable farming in selected regions of the early Ottoman Empire, including Jerusalem and neighboring districts in eastern Mediterranean; Bursa and Malatya in Anatolia; and Thessaly, Herzegovina, and Budapest in eastern Europe. I use data from the tax registers of the Ottoman Empire to estimate grain output per worker, standardized (in bushels of wheat equivalent) to allow productivity comparisons within these regions and with other times and places. The results suggest that Ottoman agriculture in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had achieved levels of labor productivity that compared favorably even with most European countries circa 1850.

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