Poor relief before the Welfare State: Britain versus the Continent, 1780 1880
Lindert, Peter H.
An eclectic array of quantitative data sketches public and private poor relief in the century before 1880, and invites new interpretations. Church and secular charity was meagre in the eighteenth century, and probably earlier. While richer countries transferred a higher share of national income to the poor than did poorer countries, the trend in this share failed to march upward with income across the nineteenth century. Some explanations are proposed for the differences between countries and the decline in poor relief s share of national income in England-Wales and the Low Countries before 1880. It may be that the newly franchised had stronger reasons to oppose tax-based relief than the elites who had voice at the start of the century. Changes in voice partly explain the movements of English poor relief over time and space. So do movements in the chances that the disenfranchised would exit from cooperating and supplying labour.
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