Choices and Constraints in the Pre-Industrial Countryside
AbstractThis paper explores a key implication of Richard Smith's work on agrarian societies: the need to be attentive both to rural people's decisions as economic agents and to the constraints on their choices. It begins by examining evidence of goal-maximizing behaviour by rural people â€“ not just peasant farmers but women, servants, serfs, landless workers, youths, and many others â€“ in a diversity of pre-industrial societies. It then analyses some central constraints within which rural people made their choices: family and inheritance systems, village communities, manorial systems, legal rules and customs, and the actions of rulers. It concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for understanding the functioning of rural economies, now widely recognized as central to long-term improvements in economic growth and human well-being.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge in its series Working Papers with number 1.
Length: 18,987 words
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2012
Date of revision: 01 Jan 2012
peasant; economic rationality; family; community; serfdom; government;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
- N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
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