IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries




Recent literature has suggested how late-medieval families may have used financial markets to navigate the life cycle. Precious little is known about the precise connections between the life cycle and family on the one hand and investments in financial instruments on the other, though. We analyse late-medieval investment behaviour using a new dataset of hundreds of life annuities. Our data give ages at purchase of annuitants as well as the pairings of investors in joint and survivor annuities and thus they allow us to link life-cycle events and family relationships to participation in financial markets. We demonstrate that the late-medieval public did not purchase single life annuities for children and argue this points to contemporaries having preferences other than for maximizing profits. We find that women were prominent investors in life annuities, but they also showed a preference for joint and survivor annuities, which were less profitable but provided insurance for (junior) family members. Finally, although the majority of joint and survivor annuities were purchased by family members, a substantial number were for people who appear not to have been related: we suggest godparenthood may help explain pairings of apparently unrelated adults and children.

Suggested Citation

  • Zuijderduijn, Jaco, 2016. "The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries," Lund Papers in Economic History 150, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0150

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Vijlder, Nicolas & Limberger, Michael, 2014. "Public or private interests? The investment behaviour of public officials in Antwerp during the early modern period," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 301-326, December.
    2. Jaco Zuijderduijn & Tine De Moor, 2013. "Spending, saving, or investing? Risk management in sixteenth-century Dutch households," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(1), pages 38-56, February.
    3. Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2013. "Living la vita apostolica. Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland," Working Papers 0044, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    4. Di Matteo, Livio, 1998. "Wealth Accumulation and the Life-Cycle in Economic History: Implications of Alternative Approaches to Data," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 296-324, July.
    5. Annemarie Bouman & Jaco Zuijderduijn & Tine De Moor, 2012. "From hardship to benefit: A critical review of the nuclear hardship theory in relation to the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern," Working Papers 0028, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    6. Jaco Zuijderduijn & Roos van Oosten, 2015. "Breaking the piggy bank: What can historical and archaeological sources tell us about late-medieval saving behaviour?," Working Papers 0065, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    7. Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2010. "Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-33, February.
    8. Kristina Lilja & Dan B├Ącklund, 2013. "To navigate the family economy over a lifetime: life-cycle squeezes in pre-industrial Swedish towns," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 171-189, May.
    9. Jan Luiten van Zanden & Jaco Zuijderduijn & Tine De Moor, 2012. "Small is beautiful: the efficiency of credit markets in the late medieval Holland," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 3-22, February.
    10. Tine De Moor & Jaco Zuijderduijn, 2013. "Preferences of the poor: market participation and asset management of poor households in sixteenth-century Holland," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 233-249, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    life annuities; investment behaviour; financial history;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0150. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Tobias Karlsson) or (Benny Carlsson). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.