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Female farming. Persistence and economic performance of Swedish widows from 1730-1860

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 125-141
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: The History of the Family
Volym: 17
Nummer: 2
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Taylor & Francis


This article examines the economic consequences of widowhood and the possibility of maintaining female-managed farms in a predominantly male world. A unique dataset is exploited to investigate the productivity of female-headed households in preindustrial Sweden. The main source material is tithe payment rolls maintained by parish priests, which reflect fluctuations and long-term trends in the annual economic output of more than 2,000 individual farms. No evidence was found that farm management conducted by widows was dissolved by male relatives or neighbours. Farm management by widows was in many cases a temporary arrangement, especially on manorial land, where landlords did not accept female farmers. But among freeholders and crown tenants, widows often refrained from remarriage and continued as farm heads. As for production, farms managed by widows performed slightly better than farms managed by men during the first few years after a takeover. This result levelled out over time and farms managed by long-term widows show production results almost equal to farms run by men.


  • Economic History
  • widows
  • farm production
  • tenants
  • freeholders
  • seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • Sweden


  • ISSN: 1873-5398

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