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  • Cited by 3
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Salisbury, Laura 2014. Selective migration, wages, and occupational mobility in nineteenth century America. Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 53, p. 40.

    Depew, Briggs Fishback, Price V. and Rhode, Paul W. 2013. New deal or no deal in the Cotton South: The effect of the AAA on the agricultural labor structure. Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 50, Issue. 4, p. 466.

    CARMONA, JUAN and SIMPSON, JAMES 2012. Explaining contract choice: vertical coordination, sharecropping, and wine in Europe, 1850-19501. The Economic History Review, Vol. 65, Issue. 3, p. 887.


Time on the Ladder: Career Mobility in Agriculture, 1890–1938

  • LEE J. ALSTON (a1) and JOSEPH P. FERRIE (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 December 2005

We explore the dynamics of the agricultural ladder for black farmers in the U.S. South using individual-level data from a retrospective survey conducted in 1938 in Jefferson County, Arkansas. We develop and test hypotheses to explain the time spent as a tenant, sharecropper, and wage laborer. The most striking result of our analysis is the importance of individual characteristics in career mobility. In all periods—pre–World War I; the war years, and subsequent boom; the 1920s; and the Great Depression years—some farmers moved up the agricultural ladder quite rapidly while others remained stuck on a rung.

Movement from rung to rung has been predominantly in the direction of descent rather than ascent. … [There is] an increasing tendency for the rungs of the ladder to become bars—forcing imprisonment in a fixed social status from which it is increasingly difficult to escape.National Resources CommitteeNational Resources Committee, “Report.”

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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