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Published in: Essays in Economic and Business History, vol. 23, 2005


The efficiency of Cherokee Indian agriculture before removal has been debated since the early nineteenth century, yet no study has employed quantitative methods to estimate the multifactor productivity of these farmers. For this investigation I employed a unique census collected in 1835 to estimate Cherokee household-level technical efficiency and scale elasticities to determine which group (classified in terms of economic and racial characteristics) within this diverse Nation achieved the highest farm productivity. The analysis reveals that among non-slaveholding Cherokee!r--the majority of Cherokee households in the Southeast--market-oriented units that were unrelated to any particular household racial composition achieved the highest multifactor productivity.

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