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Productivity of a Commune: The Shakers, 1850–1880

  • Metin M. Coşgel (a1) and John E. Murray (a2)

Abstract

Focusing on a religious commune known as the Shakers and utilizing the information recorded in the enumeration schedules of the U.S. manufacturing and agriculture censuses, this article estimates the productivities of Shaker enterprises and compares them with those of other producers randomly selected from the same data source. The results provide support to the contention that communes need not always suffer from reduced productivity. Shaker farms and shops generally performed just as productively as their neighbors; when differences did exist between their productivities, there are good reasons to attribute them to factors other than the organizational form.

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