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The land-labour hypothesis revised : Wealth, labour and household composition on the South African Frontier

Cilliers, Jeanne LU and Green, Erik LU (2017) In African Economic History Network Working Paper Series 2017(34).
Abstract
Traditional frontier literature identifies a positive correlation between land availability and fertility. A common explanation is that the demand for children as labour is higher in newly established frontier regions compared to older and more densely populated farming regions. In this paper we contribute to the debate by analysing the relationship between household composition and land availability in a closing frontier region, i.e. the Graaff-Reinet district in South Africa’s Cape Colony from 1800-28. We show that the number of children present in farming households increased with frontier closure, while the presence of non-family labourers decreased over time. We explain this by, differently from the frontier literature, acknowledging... (More)
Traditional frontier literature identifies a positive correlation between land availability and fertility. A common explanation is that the demand for children as labour is higher in newly established frontier regions compared to older and more densely populated farming regions. In this paper we contribute to the debate by analysing the relationship between household composition and land availability in a closing frontier region, i.e. the Graaff-Reinet district in South Africa’s Cape Colony from 1800-28. We show that the number of children present in farming households increased with frontier closure, while the presence of non-family labourers decreased over time. We explain this by, differently from the frontier literature, acknowledging that the demand for family labour was not a function of its marginal productivity and that farmers reacted to differently to diminishing land availability depending on their wealth. Poorer households, which made up the majority of this frontier population, responded to shrinking land availability by employing relatively more family labour, while the wealthiest group underwent capital intensification. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
South Africa, household composition, agriculture, labour, pre-industrial, J23, N37, N57
in
African Economic History Network Working Paper Series
volume
2017
issue
34
pages
39 pages
publisher
African Economic History Network
ISBN
978-91-981477-9-7
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
2aaa443c-ff96-41f7-a069-6127c72640c1
alternative location
https://www.aehnetwork.org/working-papers/the-land-labour-hypothesis-revised-wealth-labour-and-household-composition-at-the-south-african-frontier/
date added to LUP
2017-05-30 14:16:38
date last changed
2017-06-01 11:03:45
@misc{2aaa443c-ff96-41f7-a069-6127c72640c1,
  abstract     = {Traditional frontier literature identifies a positive correlation between land availability and fertility. A common explanation is that the demand for children as labour is higher in newly established frontier regions compared to older and more densely populated farming regions. In this paper we contribute to the debate by analysing the relationship between household composition and land availability in a closing frontier region, i.e. the Graaff-Reinet district in South Africa’s Cape Colony from 1800-28. We show that the number of children present in farming households increased with frontier closure, while the presence of non-family labourers decreased over time. We explain this by, differently from the frontier literature, acknowledging that the demand for family labour was not a function of its marginal productivity and that farmers reacted to differently to diminishing land availability depending on their wealth. Poorer households, which made up the majority of this frontier population, responded to shrinking land availability by employing relatively more family labour, while the wealthiest group underwent capital intensification.},
  author       = {Cilliers, Jeanne and Green, Erik},
  isbn         = {978-91-981477-9-7},
  keyword      = {South Africa,household composition,agriculture,labour,pre-industrial,J23,N37,N57},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {34},
  pages        = {39},
  publisher    = {African Economic History Network},
  series       = {African Economic History Network Working Paper Series},
  title        = {The land-labour hypothesis revised : Wealth, labour and household composition on the South African Frontier },
  volume       = {2017},
  year         = {2017},
}