Feeding the World
An Economic History of Agriculture, 1800-2000
Giovanni Federico


In the last two centuries, agriculture has been an outstanding, if somewhat neglected, success story. Agriculture has fed an ever-growing population with an increasing variety of products at falling prices, even as it has released a growing number of workers to the rest of the economy. This book, a comprehensive history of world agriculture during this period, explains how these feats were accomplished.

Feeding the World synthesizes two hundred years of agricultural development throughout the world, providing all essential data and extensive references to the literature. It covers, systematically, all the factors that have affected agricultural performance: environment, accumulation of inputs, technical progress, institutional change, commercialization, agricultural policies, and more. The last chapter discusses the contribution of agriculture to modern economic growth. The book is global in its reach and analysis, and represents a grand synthesis of an enormous topic.

First published in 2005.

Giovanni Federico is Professor of Economic History at the European University Institute. He has written extensively on Italian and comparative economic history, with special attention on agriculture, trade, and trade policy. He is the author of An Economic History of the Silk Industry and the coauthor of The Growth of the Italian Economy, 1820-1940.