Lund Papers in Economic History, Department of Economic History, Lund University
The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries
Abstract: Recent literature has suggested how late-medieval families
may have used financial markets to navigate the life cycle. Precious little
is known about the precise connections between the life cycle and family on
the one hand and investments in financial instruments on the other, though.
We analyse late-medieval investment behaviour using a new dataset of
hundreds of life annuities. Our data give ages at purchase of annuitants as
well as the pairings of investors in joint and survivor annuities and thus
they allow us to link life-cycle events and family relationships to
participation in financial markets. We demonstrate that the late-medieval
public did not purchase single life annuities for children and argue this
points to contemporaries having preferences other than for maximizing
profits. We find that women were prominent investors in life annuities, but
they also showed a preference for joint and survivor annuities, which were
less profitable but provided insurance for (junior) family members.
Finally, although the majority of joint and survivor annuities were
purchased by family members, a substantial number were for people who
appear not to have been related: we suggest godparenthood may help explain
pairings of apparently unrelated adults and children.
Keywords: life annuities; investment behaviour; financial history; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: D10; D12; E21; G11; N13; (follow links to similar papers)
28 pages, December 9, 2016
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