Berufsbezeichnungen, Landbesitz und Nahrungsmittelbedarf: Indikatoren für die Proportion agrarischer und nichtagrarischer Tätigkeiten in einer nordosthessischen Kleinregion um 1770
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As a measurement of labour productivity in agriculture the proportion of population numbers in urban and rural areas provides only approximate estimates. To come to a closer determination, the share of agricultural activities in the cities has to be regarded just as the share of non-agricultural activities in the countryside, the latter being the main purpose of the present article. In the 18th century in most of the villages in Central Germany only a small number of households consisted of full-time farmers, while a majority of inhabitants was practising mixed economies. To determine the proportion of agricultural and non-agricultural labour in mixed economies, we were drawing upon yield checks (village-based tests conducted between 1770 and 1772 for taxation purposes) in combination with contemporary food estimates, household lists, and pay rolls recorded for 11 villages in a Central German (Northern Hesse) region. As a result, the average share of income gained on own farm plots differed in accordance with a household’s occupational orientation, amounting from 25% (day-labourers) to 50% (weavers and craftsmen), and 65% (teamsters). Only the upper layers of the latter were able to accumulate noteworthy surplus incomes to turn their consumption patterns into the direction of an „industrious revolution“. On the other side, in proportion with the share and the composition of households with non-agricultural occupations, most of the villages fell short of feeding their own inhabitants (with conspicuous shortcomings in the dairy sector in a majority of villages) on local agricultural resources, even if fallow cultivation (mainly flax, cabbage, tobacco, and – after c. 1760 – a sharply rising share of potatoes) is included.
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