Abstract

Isolated Shaker communal farms stressed self-sufficiency as an ideal but carefully chose which goods to buy and sell in external markets and which to produce and consume themselves. We use records of hog slaughter weights to investigate the extent to which the Shakers incorporated market-based price information in determining production levels of a consumption good which they did not sell in external markets: pork. Granger causality tests indicate that Shaker pork production decisions were influenced as hypothesized, strongly by corn prices and weakly by pork prices. We infer that attention to opportunity costs of goods that they produced and consumed themselves was a likely factor aiding the longevity of Shaker communal societies.

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