The Old Poor Law and the Agricultural Labor Market in Southern England: An Empirical Analysis
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The paper examines the economic role played by poor relief in early nineteenth-century England. A three-equation model is estimated to explain cross-parish variations in per capita relief expenditures, agricultural laborers' annual wage income, and unemployment rates. Relief expenditures are found to be related to crop mix, the political power of labor-hiring farmers, distance from London, and employment opportunities in cottage industry. The results strongly support the revisionist analysis of the Old Poor Law, and reject the analysis contained in the Report of the Royal Poor Law Commission.
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Britain; poor relief; Old Poor Law; employment; farming
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