The Economic History Review

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Print ISSN: 0013-0117
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Guilds provided for masters' and journeymen's burial, sickness, old age, and widowhood. Guild welfare was of importance to artisans, to the functioning of guilds, to the myriad of urban social relations, and to the political economy. However, it is an understated and neglected aspect of guild activities. This article looks at welfare provision by guilds, with the aim of addressing four questions. Firstly, for which risks did guild welfare arrangements exist in the Netherlands between 1550 and 1800, and what were the coverage, contributions, benefit levels, and conditions? Secondly, can guild welfare arrangements be regarded as insurance? Thirdly, to what extent and how did guilds overcome classic insurance problems such as adverse selection, moral hazards, and correlated risks? Finally, what was the position of guild provision in the Dutch political economy and vis-à-vis poor relief?
 
This article argues that historians have paid insufficient attention to the agrarian roots of early modern English famines. While not dismissing the insights arising from entitlements theory, the article takes issue with recent writings that have explained the famine of 1622–3 in north-west England as an entitlements crisis. It offers new empirical evidence from an estate in east Lancashire to demonstrate the scale of the crisis in the early 1620s, using estate accounts to produce new price data and estimates of productivity. On the basis of oat tithe data, the scale of the shortfall in foodstuffs in the harvest of 1621 is demonstrated as being probably in the region of a third; that of the following year has to be inferred from price data. The evidence shows that the crisis was not limited to the arable economy, but was followed by an extensive restocking of the pastoral economy. The article therefore makes a contribution to the growing interest in weather as an exogenous factor.
 
The Settlement of Tithes of 1638 can be tested for biases in its London rents. Even so, it proves to be a relatively good source for seventeenth-century London, and for calculating associated median and mean rents, as well as a Gini coefficient of inequality for the distribution of resources. Through other evidence in the Settlement, rent/income ratios for London can be approximated, and from them estimates made of London's median income. Median rents and income also allow estimates of the percentage of Londoners in poverty. Though the last is inevitably disputable, the estimate holds up well to testing by other evidence.
 
This article examines the interplay between retail changes and transformations in the material culture of Antwerp, a provincial town in the southern Netherlands. We argue that major changes in the eighteenth-century material culture and retail sector were not significantly linked to preconditions of economic growth and urbanization. The Antwerp 'retail paradox' is that of a shrinking economic horizon running parallel to material culture and retail transformations, usually connected to expanding urban economies and societies. Changing retail and consumer practices explain the growing and prospering retail sector, rather than a growing economy.
 
This article calculates, nationally and by region, real wages for male English farm workers. Rural living costs are also estimated. Only in the 1820s did real day wages begin to increase from their level in the century before the industrial revolution, but by the 1860s they had climbed to 46 per cent above the average for 1670-1769. It is argued that these farm real wage gains will imply equivalent improvements in urban living standards. But, given what we know of land rents and returns on capital, farm wages entail no agricultural productivity gains before 1820, and modest gains thereafter.
 
This article studies 69 rural parishes in eight English counties, examining changes in geographical marital endogamy. It discovers a consistent upward trend in the proportions of marriages that were parochially endogamous, coupled with a decline in so-called 'foreign' marriages following Hardwickes's Act (1753), and a striking shift towards marriages taking place in the brides' parishes. It explores regional variability in parochial endogamy and stresses the role of settlement sizes. The explanation for rising endogamy highlights factors such as population growth, rising poor relief expenditures, and attitudes resistant to 'outsiders' during a period of precarious subsistence and associated tensions.
 
This article is based on unique ‘narratives of the poor’, that is, letters from poor people to their parishes of settlement, petitions to the London Refuge of the Destitute, and letters from mothers to the London Foundling Hospital, with supportive evidence from newspapers. These display fundamental concepts among the English poor, who were often poorly literate, and who comprised the majority of the population. Discussion focuses upon their understandings of ‘home’, ‘belonging’, ‘friends’, and ‘community’. These key concepts are related here to modern discussions, to set important concerns into historical perspective. ‘Friends’, valuably studied by sociologists such as Pahl, had a wide meaning in the past. ‘Home’ meant (alongside abode) one's parish of legal settlement, where one was entitled to poor relief under the settlement/poor laws. This was where one ‘belonged’. Ideas of ‘community’ were held and displayed even at a distance, among frequently migrant poor, who wrote to their parishes showing strong ties of attachment, right, and local obligation. This discussion explores these issues in connection with belonging and identity. It elucidates the meaning and working of poor law settlement, and is also an exploration of popular mentalities and the semi-literate ways in which these were expressed.
 
New annual series for the prices of major agricultural commodities sold in London markets between 1770 and 1914 are presented. These series are based on bimonthly observations drawn from newspaper market reports. The products covered are wheat, barley (grinding and malting), oats, potatoes, hay, butter, beef, mutton, and pork. Annual prices are calculated for both calendar and production years. The new series are compared to existing series.
 
In its betrayal of curative ideals by custodial practices the York Asylum provided an early demonstration of the inadequacies inherent in the traditional, progressive interpretation of the specialist asylum's development. The paper argues that in this institution a custodial regime was the result of economic and administrative factors rather than ideological or therapeutic ones. The analysis also suggests that it was the lowly keeper on whom the character of the inmates' treatment depended and not the eminent doctor or therapist on whose role much recent work has focused.
 
Attempts to enlighten the debate by examining mortality in Carlisle, drawing conclusions about the course of mortality in the period by comparing the rates revealed early in the era of civil registration with those current in the 1780s. Results suggest that deterioration in Carlisle occurred later in the period. -after Author
 
This article explores the proposition that a reason for high agricultural productivity in the early nineteenth century was relatively high energy availability from draught animals. The article is based on the collection of extensive new data indicating different trends in draught power availability and the efficiency of its use in different countries of Europe. This article shows that the proposition does not hold, and demonstrates that, although towards the end of the nineteenth century England had relatively high numbers of draught animals per agricultural worker, it also had low number of workers and animals per hectare, indicating the high efficiency of muscle power, rather than an abundance of such power. The higher efficiency was related to a specialization on less labour-intensive farming and a preference for horses over oxen.
 
The increase in environmental pollution in the 19th century, and the reactions to it, have not been systematically studied by historians. This article examines the growth in alkali production and the responses of farmers and landowners to its effects. Using private papers, the proceedings of the select Committee of 1862, and parliamentary debates, it establishes that the attempt to mitigate the social costs of industrial pollution led to a major breach in the principles of laissez-faire that the origins of the reform lay in the desire to protect property rather than people that reform was characterized by cooperation between reformers and polluters and that the initial legislation (of 1863), although deficient in some respects, created the bases for future regulation.-Author
 
This article revisits a familiar source–the 1834 Poor Law Report–to provide a fresh overview of the regional map of female and child labour in the early nineteenth–century countryside. Patterns of employment in domestic industry and agricultural labour (particularly haymaking, weeding, and harvesting) are investigated alongside labourers’ contributions to the annual family income. The results indicate that orthodox accounts of rural employment and wage patterns should not be accepted uncritically. Adopting an empirical approach to the qualitative evidence contained in the report offers a blueprint for future analysis of similar contemporary printed sources.
 
Formed in the mid-nineteenth century, the building societies grew rapidly from their humble beginnings as localized ‘self-help’ institutions to become the dominant players in the house mortgage market by the interwar period. Throughout their early history, the societies presented themselves as champions of home ownership among the working classes, but historians of housing have generally disputed the role that building societies played, or could have played, in extending home ownership before the First World War. The case study presented in this article shows that it was possible for a building society to lend to working-class borrowers, and that home ownership before the First World War was not beyond the grasp of such people. While it was undoubtedly an exception within the movement, the Co-operative Permanent Building Society showed a genuine commitment to working-class owner-occupation, providing the majority of its loans to both skilled and unskilled workers on easy repayment terms. How it was able to overcome the adverse selection and moral hazard risks involved in lending to such groups of people is the focus of this article.
 
Total number of stillbirths registered, 1939-47 Rate of stillbirths per 1,000 total births, 1939-47 
Number of stillbirths recorded in Scotland under the principal causal groups, 1939-45 
The history of vital registration has attracted substantial attention from both social historians and historical demographers. While much of that research has touched upon issues of fertility and mortality, the contentious issue of the stillborn child-which falls somewhere between the two-has been largely neglected. Although civil birth and death registration was introduced to Scotland in 1855, stillbirth registration did not begin until 1939. Using a range of legal, medical, and statistical evidence, this article explores the history of stillbirth registration in Scotland from a social history perspective. It outlines the problems associated with lack of stillbirth registration, the processes that eventually led to registration of the stillborn child, and the wider significance of that registration.
 
While it has long been believed that prewar censuses undercounted women's labour force parti- pation, a paucity of independent evidence has constrained the evaluation of potential biases. This article compares participation rates derived from social surveys with censuses for the same towns between 1911 and 1931. The participation rates for women are uniformly lower in the social surveys than in the censuses. An analysis of 35 London boroughs indicates that some of the discrepancy can be explainedby differences in the coverage of domestic servants, unemployed, own-account, and part-time workers. Overall there is little evidence that the census undercounted women's work.
 
The article argues that substantial financial benefits resulted from the British National Health Insurance Scheme. It gave insurance doctors a secure basic income, although growing demand for private medical care provided the more buoyant element in their income. The striking gains made by doctors under this unique combination of public and private payments have not been appreciated hitherto. Insurance patients did less well since, although more treatment was available to them, the capitation system gave no incentive to improve the quality of medical care. This conflict between the interests of insurance patients and their doctors was to be perpetuated in the N.H.S.
 
Examines the rising incidence of sickness and disability among working people, which ran parallel to growing unemployment in interwar Britain. It concludes that the falling demand for labour is central to explaining this development. This analysis throws new light on the debate concerning the social consequence of mass unemployment, by arguing that economic factors helped influence contemporary perceptions of sickness and health. It also indicates that the numbers losing work in this period were probably larger than is commonly supposed. -Author English
 
This article uses cases studies of Dundee and Manchester to explain juvenile property-offending in terms of young people's use of objects and spaces in the period 1945-60. A composite picture is assembled of objects stolen, which reflects growth of the specifically "teenage" consumer market as well as continued significance of young people's contribution to family economies. Concerns about youth, property, and space were reported in newspapers in terms of vandalism and hooliganism. "Play" and "nuisance" were overlapping and contested categories; re-education of young people in the correct use of place, space, and property was a key aim of the postwar juvenile justice system.
 
The population census is one of the major statistics gathering exercises undertaken by the state, when information on a wide range of personal attributes is demanded. None is more problematic than occupation, which, for clarity, requires the subsequent simplification and classification of the myriad of self-descriptions collected. Nowhere is this more evident than in South Africa before 1958. Conflict between British imperial directives and local peculiarities, notably the issue of race, resulted in the adoption of widely fluctuating classification schemes. Consequently, direct comparisons between the published occupational statistics of successive enumerations are highly problematic, if not impossible.
 
As a subterranean, highly elastic energy source, coal played a vital role in the cotton industry revolution. Coal was also vital to Lancashire's primacy in this revolution, because it was necessary both to the original accumulation of agglomeration economies before the steam age and to their reinforcement during the steam age. In no other part of the world was the cotton industry situated on a coalfield, and the response of other parts of the world cotton industry to Lancashire's agglomeration advantages was dispersal in search of cheap water and/or labour power. Lancashire coal helped to shape the global pattern of cotton production.
 
This article is a response to Davenport, Schwarz, and Boulton's article, ‘The decline of adult smallpox in eighteenth-century London’. It introduces new data on the parish of St Mary Whitechapel which casts doubt on the pattern of the age incidence of smallpox found by Davenport et al. However, it is concluded that there was a decline in adult smallpox in London, accompanied by a concentration of the disease among children under the age of five. Davenport et al.'s argument that the shift in the age incidence was due to the endemicization of smallpox in England is challenged, with an alternative view that these age changes can be accounted for by the practice of inoculation, both in the hinterland southern parishes of England and in London itself. A detailed discussion is carried out on the history of inoculation in London for the period 1760–1812. It is suggested that inoculation became increasingly popular in this period, rivalling in popularity the practice of vaccination. This was associated with a class conflict between the medical supporters of Jenner and the general population, with many of the latter being practitioners of the old inoculation.
 
Smallpox as a percentage of all burials. Source: Marshall, Mortality, unpaginated tables; Sextons' day books of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. 
Percentage age distribution of burials from smallpox in St. Martin's. 96 
Sex ratios and cost of burial for adults aged 10-39, by cause and period. 97 
Smallpox was probably the single most lethal disease in eighteenth-century Britain, but was a minor cause of death by the mid-nineteenth century. Although vaccination was crucial to the decline of smallpox, especially in urban areas, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, it remains disputed the extent to which smallpox mortality declined before vaccination. Analysis of age-specific changes in smallpox burials within the large west London parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields revealed a precipitous reduction in adult smallpox risk from the 1770s, and this pattern was duplicated in the east London parish of St Dunstan's. Most adult smallpox victims were rural migrants, and such a drop in their susceptibility is consistent with a sudden increase in exposure to smallpox in rural areas. We investigated whether this was due to the spread of inoculation, or an increase in smallpox transmission, using changes in the age patterns of child smallpox burials. Smallpox mortality rose among infants, and smallpox burials became concentrated at the youngest ages, suggesting a sudden increase in infectiousness of the smallpox virus. Such a change intensified the process of smallpox endemicization in the English population, but also made cities substantially safer for young adult migrants.
 
Cultural explanations of economic phenomena have recently enjoyed a renaissance among economists. This article provides further evidence for the salience of culture through an in-depth case study of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world during the last 50 years-Botswana. The unique culture that developed among the Tswana before and during the early days of colonialism, which shared many features with those of western nation-states, appears to have contributed significantly to the factors widely seen as determinants of Botswana's post-colonial economic success: state legitimacy, good governance and democracy, commercial traditions, well-established property rights, and inter-ethnic unity. Neighbouring Southern African cultures typically did not exhibit these traits.
 
Regional and chronological differences have dominated descriptions of the period of transition from the late fourteenth century to the sixteenth. The contribution of west Berkshire is to define these differences more precisely by employing data from within the region both at the sub-regional level and from two detailed case studies. An explanation for local diversity is formulated, consisting of the interaction of landlord policy, local ecological structure, and urban-rural relationships and their effects on the pace of developments in individual locations. Change is seen taking place over prolonged periods and with distinctive sub-regional characteristics.
 
Historians have documented rising farm sizes throughout the period 1450–1850. Existing studies have revealed much about the mechanisms underlying the development of agrarian capitalism. However, we currently lack any consensus as to when the critical developments occurred. This is largely due to the absence of sufficiently large and geographically wide-ranging datasets but is also attributable to conceptual weaknesses in much of the literature. This article develops a new approach to the problem and argues that agrarian capitalism was dominant in southern and eastern England by 1700 but that in northern England the critical developments came later.
 
Parish and charity apprenticeship database, 1751–1833: periods of coverage                               Notes: SSHc: St Sepulchre Holborn (City); SGC: St Giles Cripplegate; SDW: St Dunstan in the West; SBA: St Botolph Aldgate; SBAg: St Botolph Aldersgate; SAH: St Andrew Holborn; SSHm: St Sepulchre Holborn (Middlesex); SLC: St Luke Chelsea; SLS: St Leonard Shoreditch; SMJ: St Margaret and St John; SCD: St Clement Danes. Source: Apprentice database.
Parishes included in apprentice database, 1751-1833 Parish N Middlesex
Average ages at apprenticeship, by decade and by location, 1760s to 1830s                               Notes: Total N is 3,166 (those missing from the 3,285 total in the sample lack age information); boys 1,815; girls 1,348; all Middlesex 1,755; all City 1,411. Source: Apprentice database.
Average ages at apprenticeship among parish children, by decade and by location, 1760s to 1830s
Breakdown of occupational classification of parish apprentices by decade, 1760s to 1830s                               Source: Apprentice database.
This article offers an examination of the patterns and motivations behind parish apprenticeship in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London. It stresses continuity in outlook from parish officials binding children, which involved placements in both the traditional and industrializing sectors of the economy. Evidence on the ages, employment types, and locations of 3,285 pauper apprentices bound from different parts of London between 1767 and 1833 indicates a variety of local patterns. The analysis reveals a pattern of youthful age at binding, a range of employment experiences, and parish-specific links to particular trades and manufactures.
 
Main notifiable animal diseases in Great Britain, 1900 and 1910
Economic historians have focused research effort on accounting for the growth and significance of Britain's pharmaceutical industry, but little effort has so far been directed at the veterinary medicine industry, which formed an important part of the wider sector. This article addresses that gap. Factors responsible for that sector's relative insignificance until the 1950s included a general tendency to slaughter rather than to treat sick animals, the absence of advanced medicines until the innovation of sulpha drugs and antibiotics, and difficult relations with the wider pharmaceutical industry. Thereafter output of veterinary medicines increased dramatically, arising from an exponential growth in the demand for intensively farmed poultry meat. Since the 1980s a decline in the use of drugs in agriculture has caused the industry to concentrate on the health needs of domestic animals rather than those of livestock.
 
This article introduces a newly discovered household budget data set for 1904. We use these data to estimate urban poverty among working families in the British Isles. Applying Bowley's poverty line, we estimate that at least 23 per cent of people in urban working households and 18 per cent of working households had income insufficient to meet minimum needs. This is well above Rowntree's estimate of primary poverty for York in 1899 and high in the range that Bowley found in northern towns in 1912–13. The skill gradient of poverty is steep; for instance, among labourers' households, the poverty rates are close to 50 per cent. Measures of the depth of poverty are relatively low in the data, suggesting that most poor male-headed working households were close to meeting Bowley's new standard.
 
Infant mortality in Victorian Britain: the mother as medium. An integrated framework is developed for analysing infant mortality. Mothers' health, fertility, sanitary and housing conditions, female employment levels, food supplies are quantified for a large sample of towns, c. 1860-1905. The relationship between family size, fertility, and infant mortality is analysed. The results suggest that the health of mothers, especially their resistance to disease, played a strong role in the differences in infant mortality across socio-economic groupings and in its decline. The framework developed can account for the large long term trend decline in (non-diarrhoea) infant mortality in textile towns and the modest decline in mining areas, with rural areas coming midway.
 
This study investigates the development of early modern Ottoman consumer culture. In particular, the democratization of consumption, which is a significant indicator of the development of western consumer cultures, is examined in relation to Ottoman society. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century probate inventories of the town of Bursa combined with literary and official sources are used in order to identify democratization of consumption and the macro conditions shaping this development. Findings demonstrate that commercialization, international trade, urbanization which created a fluid social structure, and the ability of the state to negotiate with guilds were possible contextual specificities which encouraged the democratization of consumption in the Bursa context.
 
The role of human capital in economic growth is now largely uncontested. One indicator of human capital frequently used for the pre-1900 period is age heaping, which has been increasingly used to measure gender-specific differences. In this note, we find that in some historical samples, married women heap significantly less than unmarried women. This is still true after correcting for possible selection effects. A possible explanation is that a percentage of women adapted their ages to that of their husbands, hence biasing the Whipple index. We find the same effect to a lesser extent for men. Since this bias differs over time and across countries, a consistent comparison of female age heaping should be made by focusing on unmarried women.
 
Exploiting hitherto unexamined London port book data, this article shows that during the last quarter of the seventeenth century the coastal metropolitan corn import trade was twice the size that historians relying on the work of Gras have assumed it to have been. More significantly, it demonstrates that Gras's failure to examine the capital's grain trade other than in terms of aggregate corn imports has disguised the nature and extent of its contribution to the development of the London economy. By the 1680s, the coastal trade comprised two distinct strands of roughly equal size: one providing food and drink for the London population, the other fuelling the overland trade of the capital. It is argued that the former was unnecessary for the provision of the city other than in barren years, but that the latter may have been indispensable for the development of the overland transport infrastructure of the metropolitan region at the height of the late seventeenth-century commercial revolution. Thanks largely to the agency of southern English mariners commanding large coasters, London's demand for fodder crops after the mid-1670s drew most of the coast stretching from Berwick to Whitehaven into the orbit of the metropolitan corn market.
 
This article shows how model dwellings companies were able to offer a solution to the 'housing problem' by profitably providing decent working-class accommodation in nineteenth-century London. Despite their success, a conjuncture of economic circumstances, ideological change, and public crowding-out led to the marginalization of model dwellings companies. This experiment to provide a market solution to a social problem represents a nineteenth-century form of ethical investment which has not been accomodated within the historiography of the development of the welfare state.
 
Demographic data from the middle ages are rare and, with scant exceptions, imprecise and uncertain. This article presents a wide range of detailed and accurate information on mortality in the Benedictine priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, between 1395 and 1505, which enables death-rates to be calculated, life tables to be constructed, and some conclusions to be drawn on the incidence of epidemic disease. Mortality was extremely high, with frequent crises; death-rates rose above 60 per thousand on 8 occasions. Overall the mortality experience of the monks lay close to West level 3 of the Princeton Model Life Table series, where expectation of life at birth is put at less than 23 years. -Journal summary
 
Data on 26,915 working-class metropolitan households, collected in 1929-31 as part of the 'New survey of London', are used to assess the extent to which sons entered the same occupations, with the same skill rankings, as their fathers. The evidence shows that the level of occupational continuity was lower, and the degree of social mobility higher, than previously claimed by postwar sociologists. These findings cast doubt on accepted views of the stability and homogeneity of 'traditional' working-class communities in interwar Britain.
 
Considers why the disease suddenly disappeared from England after three hundred years, in the context of some comments about the disease and its methods of transmission.- after Author
 
This article uses national and local records of debt and evidence from coins, prices, and wages to discuss the economic effects of the gold coinage that was introduced into England in 1344. It distinguishes between the deflationary effects of gold and those of the falling population on prices and credit, and shows that a coinage dominated by gold reduced the volume of credit and transactions far more than the mortality rate and the total circulation of coin would indicate was likely. It relates these findings to the economic and social changes of the fifteenth century.
 
Top-cited authors
Jan Luiten van Zanden
  • Utrecht University
Robert Allen
  • University of Oxford
Avner Offer
  • All Souls College Oxford
Jane Humphries
  • University of Oxford
Stephen Broadberry
  • University of Oxford