About the Project

How do consumption, production and reproduction interact to improve human well-being? The project addresses this question by exploring the theory of the ‘Industrious Revolution’ – the idea that after about 1650 Europeans shifted time out of leisure and household production into market work and consumption, thereby preparing the way for modern economic growth.

The theory is supposed to apply to all of Europe, but is based almost exclusively on English and Dutch evidence before c. 1750.

We aim to add substance to the Industrious Revolution by focussing on a Central European economy (the southwest German territory of Württemberg) where extraordinarily rich personal inventories survive from c. 1600 to c. 1900. By linking inventories with family reconstitutions and other local sources, we aim to create a database permitting a multivariate analysis of increases in market consumption and production, as a function of factors such as gender, marital status, fertility, age, occupation, local office-holding, literacy, landownership, credit relationships, kinship circles, community citizenship, guild membership, and other measures of ‘social capital’.

The project thus aims to explore the determinants of changes in human well-being over three centuries by bringing to bear new evidence, new methods, and new conceptual tools. In so doing, it hopes to address open questions about the long-term interrelationships between consumption, work, demographic outcomes, and human well-being.

The project is generously supported, as Research Grant RES-062-23-0759, by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Longer Outline of the Project