The Economic History Review

Labour migration and economic performance: London and the Randstad, c. 1600–18001

Volume 64 Issue 2
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Pages: 531-570Authors: JELLE VAN LOTTUM
Published online: August 18, 2010DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00547.x

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In most studies of early modern north-western Europe, England is regarded as the successor of the Netherlands in terms of economic leadership. Whereas related topics like institutional and technological change or changes in trade and capital flows have been incorporated into the research on the comparison of these two rival states, labour migration is usually omitted. This article aims to fill this lacuna by focusing on labour migration to the two core regions of the Netherlands and England: the Randstad and London. Two main research questions are raised in this article. First of all, in what way did the two cores and their hinterlands differ with regard to their demographic, economic, and spatial structures, and how did this contribute to different trends in labour migration over time? Secondly, what was the effect of the configuration of the demand and supply factors of London and the Randstad for their economies and for those who lived in them? By trying to answer these two questions this article aims not only to shed light on a hitherto largely unexplored topic in the comparative geographic, economic, and demographic history of the two countries, but also to contribute to the understanding of migration as a factor in the promotion of economic growth.