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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Was the manorial system an efficient insurance institution? Economic stress and demographic response in Sweden, 1749-1859

Dribe, Martin; Olsson, Mats; Svensson, Patrick


In much of preindustrial Europe, the manorial estate was an important institution in the rural economy. Despite a widespread view that the estates insured its tenants against uncertainties, there is little evidence that measures taken were efficient. This study uses the impact of grain prices on demographic outcomes as a measure of the efficiency of the manorial system in protecting its inhabitants against economic stress. Looking at four hundred parishes in southern Sweden (17491859), the manorial estate seems to have been able to insure its inhabitants against risks of economic stress, but the protective effect was highly imperfect, and only short term.

Published in

European Review of Economic History
2012, Volume: 16, number: 3, pages: 292-310

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    Economic History

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