Labour History Review

Delegated Risk in English Agriculture, 1750–1850: the Labour Market

Labour History Review (2006), 71, (2), 123–144.

Abstract

In this article, the practice of English farmers passing some of the income risks to which they were exposed onto their workforce is examined. Fluctuations in the farmer's total annual labour expenditure are estimated to have been sizeable. A crude proxy indicator confirms historians' general impression that day labourers were hired on short-term contracts. More fundamentally, the contracts of most workers were not repeatedly renewed, and some casual labourers lost wages when inclement weather prevented work on the land. Any compensating wage differential paid by farmers was probably small, partly because they could instead exploit the system of parish poor relief.

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Author details

Stead, David