Clark G. and Hamilton G. (2006) Survival of the richest in pre-industrial England

April 13, 2008

Clark Gregory and Hamilton Gillian (2006) “Survival of the Richest : The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England”, Journal of Economic History, 66/3, 707-736.

Clark and Hamilton

All the tables and figures of this post have been shamelessly stolen from this article available on line.


The ‘Malthusian’ model of pre-industrial societies depicts a situation in which “incomes are kept at subsistence levels by the interaction of fertility and land supply” (707). Although, due to a chronic lack of sources, the relationship implied by this model between wealth and reproductive success has proved elusive(708). Different studies contradict each other (709). Life expectancy did not seem to significantly rise during the periods of high wages such as the 15th century. Similarly, over the pre-industrial era it appears that was only a slight correlation between higher grain price and reduced fertility (a doubling of prices would on average only lead to a reduction in fertility inferior to 15%). Read the rest of this entry »

Epstein S. R. (2000) The late medieval integration crisis

April 6, 2008

Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The late medieval crisis as “integration crisis’” in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, 38-72.


The post-war historians thought ‘traditional societies’ did not experienced growth in per caput income due to the lack of technological innovation. But recent research has shown they could be much more productive then formerly thought, so pre-modern societies operated well below their potential: technology was not a fundamental constraint. In agriculture, only a handful of regions were reaching their technological frontier: Essex, Flanders, Lombardy, etc. Elsewhere, the bulk of the medieval innovations was still to be introduced (38). Commercial progress also allowed specialisation to take place, but warfare regularly reversed these improvements (39). Read the rest of this entry »