SMALL DEBTS AND ECONOMIC DISTRESS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, 1857-1913

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Abstract

Cyclical variations in aggregate employment conditions and regional deviations from the national pattern are investigated using a new dataset-the annual number of cases initiated in the county courts for recovery of small debts. These give a representative picture of the pattern of economic distress each year in over 500 court towns in England and Wales. The article describes The court system, the use of credit, and the process of defaulting on debts. It then presents an analysis of the cyclical pattern of county court debt cases at a national, county, and local level. It shows that variance in default on debt is closely associated with the state of the labour market, that aggregate trade union unemployment data are unrepresentative of national labour market conditions, and that labour market conditions varied widely across counties and between individual towns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-87
JournalECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW
Volume46
Publication statusPublished - 1993

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