During the eighteenth century the Flemish countryside experienced profound structural change.
Agricultural production increased and diversified, population rose by some 60 per cent and
agricultural holdings were increasingly subdivided. This project views this changes through the lens
of the labour market for agricultural labour. The first objective of this project consists of a
reconstruction of the labour demand of large farms. How did changes in agricultural production
affect the opportunities of rural households to work as a day labourer ? The second objective of this
project aims to reconstruct the reactions of the farmers to these changes. How did they change
their recruitment policies in relation to the increased availability of labour in their villages ? The final
objective of this project is to study the reactions of the labouring classes to the changes brought
about by agricultural change and hiring practices. How did households incorporate waged work into
their survival strategies ? This project compares different regions in the former country of Flanders.
To achieve these goals the project builds on a collection of farm accounts and accounts books. The
data from these sources will be cross-linked with information on the demographic, social and
economic background of the labourers in other sources.