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Babes in Bondage Parental Selling of Children to Finance Family Migration: The Case of German Migration to North America, 1720-1820

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  • Farley Grubb

    () (Department of Economics, University of Delaware)

Abstract

The existence and extent of intra-family debt shifting via selling children into bondage among German immigrant families to North America is documented using quantitative ship manifest and servant auction data. This evidence is at odds with the standard description presented in the literature based on literary sources. Market competition created the opening and colonial welfare laws drove German immigrant parents into selling their children into bondage to finance their own (the parents’) migration, but only for children within a particular and narrow age range. German immigrant parents did not callously treat their children as investment goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Farley Grubb, 2003. "Babes in Bondage Parental Selling of Children to Finance Family Migration: The Case of German Migration to North America, 1720-1820," Working Papers 03-04, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dlw:wpaper:03-04
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    File URL: http://graduate.lerner.udel.edu/sites/default/files/ECON/PDFs/RePEc/dlw/WorkingPapers/2003/UDWP2003-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Grubb, Farley, 1985. "The Market for Indentured Immigrants: Evidence on the Efficiency of Forward-Labor Contracting in Philadelphia, 1745–1773," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(04), pages 855-868, December.
    2. Grubb, Farley, 1987. "Colonial immigrant literacy: An economic analysis of Pennsylvania-German evidence, 1727-1775," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 63-76, January.
    3. Grubb, Farley, 1988. "The Auction of Redemptioner Servants, Philadelphia, 1771–1804: An Economic Analysis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 583-603, September.
    4. Grubb, Farley, 1994. "The End of European Immigrant Servitude in the United States: An Economic Analysis of Market Collapse, 1772–1835," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 794-824, December.
    5. Murray, John E. & Herndon, Ruth Wallis, 2002. "Markets For Children In Early America: A Political Economy Of Pauper Apprenticeship," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 356-382, June.
    6. Grubb, Farley, 1985. "The incidence of servitude in trans-Atlantic migration, 1771-1804," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 316-339, July.
    7. Grubb, Farley, 1992. "Educational Choice in the Era Before Free Public Schooling: Evidence from German Immigrant Children in Pennsylvania, 1771–1817," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(02), pages 363-375, June.
    8. Grubb, Farley, 1986. "Redemptioner Immigration to Pennsylvania: Evidence on Contract Choice and Profitability," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 407-418, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Shahin Yaqub, 2009. "Independent Child Migrants in Developing Countries: Unexplored links in migration and development," Papers inwopa09/62, Innocenti Working Papers.
    2. Michel Robe & Eva Maria Steiger, 2016. "Insolvency and its Consequences: A Historical Perspective," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(4), pages 35-40, 02.
    3. repec:ces:ifodic:v:13:y:2016:i:4:p:19191585 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    History; Contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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