Krediter i lust och nöd: Skattebönder i Torstuna härad, Västmanlands län, 1770‒1870
- Location: Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala
- Doctoral student: Erikson, Marja
- About the dissertation
- Organiser: Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen
- Contact person: Erikson, Marja
This thesis analyses the role of loans and credit for Swedish freeholders (skattebönder) from 1770 to 1870. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of credit for investments to improve agricultural operations, acquire land and respond to rural crises from the household perspective.
Three parishes in Mälardalen form the area under investigation. Probate inventories after freeholders together with title deeds and mortgages are the most important source material of the study.The study shows that the way freeholders used credit changed in connection to changing institutional circumstances and shifting rural economic conditions. At the end of the eighteenth century, freeholders’ farming was profitable. The households generally had rather small debts during this period and credits were primarily used for daily transactions. Agriculture expanded in the district until 1815, but this expansion was followed by weaker growth with declining profitability for the freeholders up until around 1850. From 1815, the credit market changed as the Swedish National Bank started to offer beneficial loans. The debts held by freeholders grew rapidly from the 1810s up until about 1850. It is in the thesis shown that the rising indebtedness was caused by both a greater need for capital and by a change in the supply of credit. Land prices increased during the good years and remained at a high level. The households on average made larger land acquisitions than before, which required more capital. Declining profitability in agriculture and crop failures meant that credits were needed to cover income losses and to maintain a material standard. Finally, the availability of preferential bank credits made the freeholders borrowing more. The loans from the National Bank could be seen as a substitute for the limited opportunities to reclaim land in the district. With new loans, households could acquire more land, which was the only way to increase the households' income. However, this with necessity resulted in a continuous reduction of the number of landowners. This process was accentuated in the 1820s and 1840s, when a series of bankruptcies occurred among the landowning farmers.