Agriculture plays a central role in economic history, and in fact it is only very recently that most of the world population has lived in cities. It has however often been assigned a rather passive role for development, although recent work has presented agriculture in a more favourable and dynamic light. Our work assesses the role of agriculture for development, both for example through its impact on long-run comparative development, and in terms of short-run technological and institutional change. Understanding the role of agriculture for development is of fundamental importance if we are to explain how present-day poor, largely rural economies can modernize.
HEDG is at the forefront of research on this issue, with a particularly strong focus on the economic history of Denmark, in which agriculture played an important role for development in the past, but where it also remains a major export industry today. Our research has considered the emergence of a modern dairy industry, the impact of serfdom and of land reform. Other work by HEDG affiliates has looked at American agricultural history, including the impact of the boll weevil on the American South, the impact of agricultural risk on the spread of religious communities, the impact of nuclear testing on productivity, and the role of Danish migrants for the modernization of the dairy industry. Affiliates have also written on the effects of new techniques and technology, such as the introduction of the heavy plough and clover.
This research has been funded by a number of large research grants. Currently ongoing are a prestigious Sapere Aude grant on “Rethinking the economic take-off of Denmark” (5,978,304 DKK) and another on “Conflict and Development” (5,725,440 DKK), both from Independent Research Fund Denmark, and both with Professor Paul Sharp as principal investigator.
Please address queries to the researcher responsible for this area: Paul Sharp
Other HEDG researchers who have worked or are working on this topic:
Thomas Barnebeck Andersen
Peter Sandholt Jensen
Keith Andrew Meyers
Cristina Victoria Radu
Maja Uhre Pedersen