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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/82

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

the case in the period between 1898 and 1904. But in the long run there has been some real gain; and to this gain may be added the sums which have come to the workmen through social insurance. To what extent this may have benefited the working class as a whole cannot be decided for particular trades or industries, but we may be sure that it has been to its general advantage.

Development of Agriculture

The legislation so far described has been in the interest, not only of trade and industry, but of all the classes of society concerned. It has therefore been of great service to the agricultural population. But in this case we are confronted with so many special problems besides, that it will be necessary to examine the social and economic development somewhat more closely.

In 1870 all prices were high, and particularly the price of grain. The times were good for agriculture, and the wealthier classes of the agricultural population had prospered. In the early seventies the price of farms was two or even three times as high as it had been twenty-five years before. To some extent this was due to more scientific husbandry and to the new buildings which the prosperous farmers could afford to erect under the influence of the good prices. On the whole, agriculture made great progress in the generation which preceded the seventies. Between 1850 and 1870 the production of grain seems almost to have doubled; to this came the increase in price due to the excellent state of the market. After 1875, however, the price of grain declined in a marked degree. This was largely due to North American competition, as a result of which enormous quantities of grain were thrown into the European market. In the course of twenty years the price of wheat fell about 40 per cent, and the price of rye 30 per cent. The result was the value of farms soon decreased. In the early eighties land values were still high, even three times as high as in the forties; but after 1884