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Reconsidering recent estimates of the occupational structure of late fourteenth century England

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Two recent studies of occupational structure using poll taxes of 1379 and 1380-81 surprisingly conclude that agricultural employment in late fourteenth century England accounted for less than 60 per cent of the combined male and female working population. This paper considers systematic links between the degree of evasion, which was very great between the two taxes, and the occupational distributions and the heavily masculine tax-payer sex ratios. ‘Missing’ males and especially females were disproportionately from the young unmarried section of the population where female participation rates were likely to have been high in a demographic phase when male labour shortages prevailed. Estimates of female occupational structures are made, taking account of the occupations of those who evaded and making different assumptions regarding female participation rates.

This talk is part of the Quantitative History Seminar series.

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