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The introduction of serfdom and labor markets

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  • Jensen, Peter Sandholt
  • Radu, Cristina Victoria
  • Severgnini, Battista
  • Sharp, Paul

Abstract

We provide evidence of how restrictions on labor mobility, such as serfdom and other types of labor coercion, impact labor market outcomes. To do so, we estimate the impact of a large negative shock to labor mobility in the form of the reintroduction of serfdom in Denmark in 1733, which was targeted at limiting the mobility of farmhands. Using a unique data source based on the archives of estates from the eighteenth century, we test whether serfdom affected the wages of farmhands more strongly than other groups in the labor market, and results based on a differences-in-differences approach reveal evidence consistent with a strong negative effect following its introduction. We also investigate whether one mechanism was that boys with rural backgrounds were prevented from taking up apprenticeships in towns, and find suggestive evidence that this was indeed the case. Thus, our results suggest that serfdom was effectively reducing mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Radu, Cristina Victoria & Severgnini, Battista & Sharp, Paul, 2018. "The introduction of serfdom and labor markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13303, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13303
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    Cited by:

    1. Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Radu, Cristina Victoria & Sharp, Paul Richard, 2019. "Days Worked and Seasonality Patterns of Work in Eighteenth Century Denmark," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 10/2019, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    2. Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Lampe, Markus & Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo & Sharp, Paul, 2020. "Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895," CEPR Discussion Papers 14616, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Sharp, 2020. "Standards of Living and Skill Premia in Eighteenth Century Denmark: What can we learn from a large microlevel wage database?," Working Papers 0180, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    coercion; labor mobility; serfdom;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems

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