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Agricultural Productivity in Eastern Europe and Western Asia in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

Agricultural Productivity in Eastern Europe and Western Asia in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

By Metin Coşgel

Paper given at Towards a Global History of Prices and Wages (2004)

Abstract: This paper provides standardized estimates of labor productivity in arable farming in selected regions of eastern Europe and western Asia during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The regions include Jerusalem and neighboring districts in eastern Mediterranean; Erbil in northern Iraq; Bursa, Antep and Mardin in Asia Minor; and Thessaly, Hercegovina, and Budapest in Europe. Data from the tax registers of the Ottoman Empire are used to construct estimates of grain output per worker, standardized (in bushels of wheat equivalent) to allow productivity comparisons between regions and over time. The results suggest new areas of research to understand the nature, causes, and consequences of variations in productivity.

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