Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When life deals you Black Death...

Make industrial revolution, says MIT's Peter Temin;
Voigtländer and Voth (2013) argued that the scarcity of labour after the Black Death led to a change in agricultural technology. ... farmers changed from growing crops to tending animals, from arable farming to husbandry. ....
This adaptation of agricultural technology changed the role of women in Medieval Europe. Switching from crops to husbandry reduced the demand for strength to push plough and expanded the scope of work that women could do. The result was a change in the status of women in society that economic historians have observed at other times and places. The reduction in ploughing reduced the demand for men’s labour and increased the one for women’s labour. Women’s wages rose and their opportunity for work expanded. They delayed marriage, entered service, and became more independent. This, in turn, led to the European marriage pattern and the family pattern described by Hajnal (1965). It was a unique change in the structure of society, consisting of later marriage of women, separate households for newly-married couples, and increased frequency of single women, later known as spinsters.
The adaptation to the initial shock led to a durable rise in people’s income. This, in turn, led to a demand for more meat in their diet, which, of course, was accommodated by more husbandry. The whole pattern fit together with the Black Death as a shock that shifted households and the economy from one demographic equilibrium to another.
This research dovetails with [Robert] Allen’s argument that the initial innovations of the Industrial Revolution emerged from tinkering by producers to reduce the costs of expensive labour and reap the benefits of cheap power.  
Today's question is whether Seattle Councilperson Kshama Sawant is as powerful as the Black Death.

No comments:

Post a Comment