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Peasant Strategies Towards Consumption Risk: Potential Lessons for Economic Development From Medieval England
January 30, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pmFree
Presented by Dr Cliff Bekar, Lewis & Clark College of Arts and Sciences.
Peasant economies throughout history have faced the ever present risk of famine. The very real risk of starvation faced by peasant households—from the poorest landless laborers to relatively wealthy landholders—was exacerbated by the absence of any sort of formal insurance.
Paradoxically, however, despite the omnipresent subsistence concerns of peasant households the historical incidence of widespread famine is relatively rare. This talk will present evidence for the effectiveness of peasant strategies toward subsistence risk and that such strategies ultimately shaped many aspects of the Medieval English economy. Topics include the role of risk in explaining farming strategies, demography, as well income and wealth inequality.
The potential policy relevance of the history of consumption risk is suggested by links to the contemporary economic development literature.