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Department of Economic History, Lund University Lund Papers in Economic History, Department of Economic History, Lund University

No 150:
The Ages of Women and Men : Life Cycles, Family and Investment in the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries

Jaco Zuijderduijn ()

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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