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Economic History Review

Romola J Davenport, Jeremy Boulton, Leonard Schwarz
Smallpox was probably the single most lethal disease in eighteenth-century Britain but was reduced to a minor cause of death by the mid-nineteenth century due to vaccination programmes post-1798. While the success of vaccination is unquestionable, it remains disputed to what extent the prophylactic precursor of vaccination, inoculation, reduced smallpox mortality in the eighteenth century. Smallpox was most lethal in urban populations, but most researchers have judged inoculation to have been unpopular in large towns...
February 2016: Economic History Review
Peter Földvári, Bas Van Leeuwen, Jieli Van Leeuwen-Li
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...
2012: Economic History Review
Stephen Hipkin
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...
2012: Economic History Review
Eminegül Karababa
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...
2012: Economic History Review
Marco H D Van Leeuwen
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?...
2012: Economic History Review
Leigh Shaw-Taylor
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...
2012: Economic History Review
K D M Snell
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’...
2012: Economic History Review
Peter Razzell
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Romola Davenport, Leonard Schwarz, Jeremy Boulton
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Timothy J Hatton
The first half of the twentieth century saw rapid improvements in the health and height of British children. Average height and health can be related to infant mortality through a positive selection effect and a negative scarring effect. Examining town-level panel data on the heights of school children, no evidence is found for the selection effect, but there is some support for the scarring effect. The results suggest that the improvement in the disease environment, as reflected by the decline in infant mortality, increased average height by about half a centimetre per decade in the first half of the twentieth century...
2011: Economic History Review
T A B Corley, Andrew Godley
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Louise A Jackson, Angela Bartie
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Peter M Solar, Jan Tore Klovland
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.
2011: Economic History Review
Ian Gazeley, Andrew Newell
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Astrid Kander, Paul Warde
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...
2011: Economic History Review
Pamela Nightingale
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...
2010: Economic History Review
R W Hoyle
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...
2010: Economic History Review
Alysa Levene
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...
2010: Economic History Review
A J Christopher
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...
2010: Economic History Review
Jonas Hjort
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...
2010: Economic History Review
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