Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Göteborg Papers in Economic History,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economic History

No 9: Levnadsstandarden speglad i bouppteckningar : En undersökning av två metoder att använda svenska bouppteckningar för en levnadsstandardsundersökning samt en internationell jämförelse

Per Hallén ()
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Per Hallén: Department of Economic History, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: Box 720, SE 40530 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: The standard of living in the pre-industrial world is an interesting but challenging subject. No single method alone can solve the problem. In order to grasp the standard of living several methods must be used, and work must be done across discipline borderlines. In this paper I discuss methods for using post mortal inventories (estate inventories) in order to indicate the material standard of living in Sweden. Similar methods have been used in France, Great Britain and North America. To adapt these methods to Swedish conditions have been the main focus of the paper. The first method tested here uses the valuation of all objects stated in the post mortal inventory (not including houses and farms). This method had previously been tested on English and North American inventories. All values in the Swedish material have been converted to British pounds in order to facilitate comparisons. The second method tested uses the objects in the estate inventory to create an index of the material standard of living. This index was first used in France and later in Canada. Some preliminary results in this work indicate that Swedish farmers by 1750 were well below English and French farmers in material standard of living. However, during the fifty years that followed a noticeable change took place.

Keywords: Economic History; Standard of living; post mortal inventories; methods

JEL-codes: N01; N30; N50; N90

33 pages, November 8, 2007

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