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Free and Slave Labor in the Antebellum South: Perfect Substitutes or Different Inputs?

Elizabeth B. Field
The Review of Economics and Statistics
Vol. 70, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 654-659
Published by: The MIT Press
DOI: 10.2307/1935829
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1935829
Page Count: 6
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Free and Slave Labor in the Antebellum South: Perfect Substitutes or Different Inputs?
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Abstract

The substitutability between free and slave labor is examined and the permissibility of aggregating the two into a single labor variable is investigated, using a translog production function. Slaves on large cotton farms worked in gangs; free labor was not observed to do so. Despite this, previous research has aggregated free and slave labor and employed functional forms imposing strong restrictions on substitution. Estimation of the translog function shows that simple additive aggregation is not acceptable; on large farms, slaves and free labor were complements, while on small, nongang farms, they were substitutes.

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