Stevens M. (2006) Women’s work in early 14th-century Wales

April 27, 2008

Stevens Matthew (2006) “Reassessing urban women’s work before the Black Death: a case study, 1300-49”, paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Economic History Society, Reading, 6 p.

This article is available on line.


This paper focuses on the borough of Ruthin is Wales, an active market town, during the first half of the 14th century to explore female involvement in the urban labour market. Two models have been proposed by historians:David Herlihy considers that by 1250 female participation to urban economic enterprises peaked and soon after declined until the Black Death (1349) when labour shortage reversed that trend. After the plague women’s role in the urban workforce declined steadily. Read the rest of this entry »


Britnell R. H. (2001) Specialization in England, 1100-1300

January 27, 2008

Britnell Richard H. (2001) “Specialization of work in England, 1100-1300”, Economic History Review, 54/1, 1-16.


The 12th and 13th centuries experienced growing population. The more people, the more likely it is that some will become specialized in an activity where they enjoy a comparative advantage (see Adam Smith). Persson has estimated that this led to a 0.1 to 0.25 yearly increase of productivity per caput in England over two centuries (i.e. between 22 and 62% for the whole period). But to what extend the period’s productivity gains are attributable to specialization? Read the rest of this entry »

Mendels F. (1972) Proto-industry: the first phase of industrialisation

October 28, 2007

Mendels Franklin F. (1972) “Proto-industrialization: The First Phase of the Industrialization Process”, The Journal of Economic History, 32/1, The Tasks of Economic History, 241-261.

Definition of the concept

Proto-industrialisation: “the rapid growth of traditionally organised but market-oriented, principally rural industry. It was also accompanied by changes in the spatial organisation of the rural economy” (241). The pattern of European agricultural production, created a massive but short-lived, seasonal demand for labour during the harvest. Journeymen were underemployed during the year, they were an available workforce for the labour-intensive textile industry which needed a lot of workers as its productivity had hardly increased since the 12th century (242). Read the rest of this entry »

Nakamura J.I. (1981) Human capital in rural Tokugawa Japan

October 21, 2007

Nakamura J. I. (1981) “Human Capital Accumulation in Premodern Rural Japan”, The Journal of Economic History, 41/2, 263-281.


Human capital has not always been recognized as a crucial source of historical change. Capital accumulation and technology have often been seen as more important. The development of post-WWII Japan has reminded to all that physical factors were not the only source of growth. A rather similar story happened under Meiji. The impressive and unexpected economic development of the post-1868 period was rooted in the accumulation of human resources under the Tokugawas (264). The market economy introduced by Meiji was to be the base of Japan’s economic strength, but it could not have developed so fast without the structural and cultural foundations set up under the Tokugawa and earlier. “Human capital may be broadly identified as labour skills, managerial skills, and entrepreneurial and innovative abilities – plus such physical attributes as health and strength”. Read the rest of this entry »