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Household Debt in Early Modern Germany: Evidence from Personal Inventories

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  • OGILVIE, SHEILAGH
  • KÜPKER, MARKUS
  • MAEGRAITH, JANINE

Abstract

The “less-developed” interior of early modern Europe, especially the rural economy, is often regarded as financially comatose. This article investigates this view using a rich data set of marriage and death inventories for seventeenth-century Germany. It first analyzes the characteristics of debts, examining borrowing purposes, familial links, communal ties, and documentary instruments. It then explores how borrowing varied with gender, age, marital status, occupation, date, and asset portfolio. It finds that ordinary people, even in a “less-developed” economy in rural central Europe, sought to invest profitably, smooth consumption, bridge low liquidity, and hold savings in financial form.

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  • Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Küpker, Markus & Maegraith, Janine, 2012. "Household Debt in Early Modern Germany: Evidence from Personal Inventories," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(01), pages 134-167, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:72:y:2012:i:01:p:134-167_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy W. Guinnane & Sheilagh C. Ogilvie, 2013. "A Two-Tiered Demographic System: "Insiders" and "Outsiders" in Three Swabian Communities, 1558-1914," Working Papers 1021, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    2. van Bavel, Bas, 2016. "The Invisible Hand?: How Market Economies have Emerged and Declined Since AD 500," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199608133.
    3. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2012. "Choices and Constraints in the Pre-Industrial Countryside," Working Papers 1, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, revised 01 Jan 2012.
    4. Le Bris, David, 2013. "Customary versus Civil Law within Old Regime France," MPRA Paper 52123, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

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