Abstract

This article analyses women’s work in the Dutch textile industry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries within the framework of dual (or segmented) labour market theory. This theoretical framework is usually applied to the modern labour market, but it is also valuable for historical research. It clarifies, for example, how segmentation in the labour market influenced men’s and women’s work in the textile industry. Applying this analysis, we find that, even in periods without explicit gender conflict, patriarchal and capitalist forces utilized the gender segmentation of the labour market to redefine job status and labour relations in periods of economic change. Although this could harm the economic position of all women and migrants, it appears that single women were affected most by these mechanisms.

Abstract

This article aims to compare the financing of two apparently entirely different systems of pre-industrial welfare: urban institutional welfare in the federal Dutch Republic and the national Elizabethan Poor Law in Britain. By analysing a new dataset on the income and expenditure of five Dutch towns, we conclude that, despite the absence of uniform legislation, Dutch poor relief was viable at least up until the 1790s, even in times of severe crises and declining real wages. This was obtained by the – in monetary terms – remarkably stable donations by Dutch citizens, mostly through regular collections, as well as careful financial management of the charitable funds.

Abstract

In the historical debate, the gender wage gap is usually attributed either to productivity differences or to gender discrimination. By analysing a newly constructed series of spinning wages in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, the wages of male and female textile workers for the same work could be investigated. At first sight, the evidence on equal piece rates for spinning men and women seems to rule out wage discrimination. Nevertheless, more deeply rooted gender discrimination resulting from the segmented seventeenth-century labour market restricted women’s access to many professions. Exactly this segmentation determined differences in wage earning capacities between men and women.

Abstract

This article aims to provide an empirical test of Jan de Vries’ theory of the ‘industrious revolution’, most notably his assumptions concerning the increased participation of married women in the labour force. The focus is on the pre-industrial textile industry in the Dutch Republic, within which a distinction is made between various ways in which family members cooperated in the work they undertook. This differentiation depended on the existing segmentation of the labour market, between social groups and between the sexes. It is shown that at least some groups within proletarian textile families were able to make a decent living, and that the earnings of wives played an important role in the increased industriousness of these families.

Abstract

Although child labor was a widespread phenomenon in the pre-industrial Dutch economy, we do not know very much about it. This article aims to expand our knowledge by looking at children’s work in several urban industries in the Dutch Republic. By investigating the kind of economic activities children performed, their starting age, working and living conditions and the amount of training they received, we want to typify pre-industrial child labour more specifically. Did children’s work serve as a necessary source of wage income, or rather as a vocational training for their later participation in the labour market? It will appear that this characterization as ‘work’ or ‘training’ depended largely on the child’s age, sex and social background. These distinctions may help further research on the performance of preindustrial economies, in which a demand for flexible labor played a crucial role.