chapter  4
The agrarian order
Pages 23

Agricultural production and the productivity of farm land exerted the strongest influence upon the levels of living of ordinary people, the wealth of merchants and bankers, and the wealth of the governments. How did state formation affect the incentive to improve or extend cultivation? Directly or indirectly, state formation and political competition in the eighteenth century rested on the ability of the state to raise more taxes from the cultivators and landholders. In turn, the prospects of improving the scale of resource transfer from agriculture depended on geographical conditions, overcoming geographical constraints by man-made innovations, and the incentive structure that could encourage such actions. What were these manmade measures? What were the problems that these measures encountered? How did these actions contribute to the prospects of economic growth and the welfare of the peasant producers? These questions form the subject of the present chapter.