Call for papers:
The richness of historical household budget surveys
Proposal for sessions at the World Economic History Congress in Boston, July 29–August 3, 2018
Throughout history governments and others have been interested in learning more about the welfare and living conditions of their people. From about the nineteenth century household budget surveys were in widespread use as a way to learn about the incomes, costs of living and consumption of ordinary households. Large-scale surveys were carried out in most countries around the world during the decades around the turn of the century 1900.
The primary materials, as well as the published reports, from these surveys are rich sources and have long been used for research in economic history and other disciplines (e.g. Alter 1984; Haines 1989). Recently there has been a renewed interest in these materials and several projects are underway to collect and use them for comparative studies of standards of living and inequality, as well as for studies of household behaviors and consumption.
Both the Global Income Inequality Project, University of Sussex, and the Historical Household Budgets Project, University of Rome, are currently collecting data from household budget surveys from all over the world. A workshop organized at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, in February 2016 presented the data available and discussed possibilities for future comparative studies and collaborations.
Data from household budget surveys have recently also, for example, been used to study the diets and nutrition of historical populations (e.g. Gazeley and Horrell 2013; Lundh 2013; Gazeley and Newell 2015), the effects of household size on consumption and child well-being (Hatton and Martin 2010; Logan 2011), the relationship between work and the intra-household distribution of resources (Horrell and Oxley 2013; Saaritsa and Kaihovaara 2014; Scott, Walker and Miskell 2015), and households' consumption smoothing and saving behaviors (Scott and Walker 2012; Lilja and Bäcklund 2013). Data from household budget surveys have recently also, for example, been used to study the diets and nutrition of historical populations (e.g. Gazeley and Horrell 2013; Lundh 2013; Gazeley and Newell 2015), the effects of household size on consumption and child well-being (Hatton and Martin 2010; Logan 2011), the relationship between work and the intra-household distribution of resources (Horrell and Oxley 2013; Saaritsa and Kaihovaara 2014; Scott, Walker and Miskell 2015), and households' consumption smoothing and saving behaviors (Scott and Walker 2012; Lilja and Bäcklund 2013).
This set of sessions aims to gather researchers who are using household budget data to present this new wave of research. We invite both, for example, international comparative studies and studies using the budget data to investigate behaviors and preferences of families.
We particularly invite proposals that could fit into one of the four following themes:
- Behavioral studies with household budget data: Papers in this session would use microdata from historical studies to ask questions such as: How do demographic differences affect household spending? Do households discriminate between girls and boys in expenditure allocations? How does household expenditure behavior vary with income?
- Comparative & methodological sessions: The accessibility of also household level data from budget surveys has increased in recent years, not the least thanks to the large scale projects underway. This has created opportunities for international comparative studies that could investigate similarities and differences in living conditions and behaviors across populations. The methodology of household budget studies developed and changed significantly from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. How do these changes in methods affect our comparison?
- Household expenditures: We invite papers for this session focusing on levels of household expenditure on particular categories of goods and services, and explanations for differences over time and between households. Papers in this session could return to classic questions about Engel curves, or advance new analytical directions in explaining household choices.
- Household spending in wartime. Given the timing of the meeting in 2018 at the end of the centenary of World War I it is appropriate to address directly the question of how wartime conditions affect expenditures. Many household budget studies were carried out during World War I, with some particularly focused on questions of nutrition. We invite papers that explicitly address this theme, though not restricted to World War I.
Send proposals to Stefan Öberg (email@example.com). The proposal must include the name, affiliation and contact details of the authors, a title of the paper to be presented and a very brief description of the paper (max. 70 words). The deadline for submitting proposals is Sunday 22. May, 2016.
More information on the conference can be found at http://wehc2018.org/.