Who took care of the poor?


Used database:



November 2018




In the latest issue of the journal “Continuity and Change”, Nick Van Den Broeck, Anne Winter (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Thijs Lambrecht (Ghent University) investigate regional differences in poor relief on the early modern Flemish countryside. Based on data from the STREAM database, they demonstrate that the way in which relief was organized was directly related to regional socio-economic structures (such as farm size, property structures and organization of the labour market).


Van den Broeck, Nick, Thijs Lambrecht, and Anne Winter. “Pre-Industrial Welfare between Regional Economies and Local Regimes: Rural Poor Relief in Flanders around 1800.” Continuity and Change 33, no. 2 (2018): 255–84.


“This study uses data on income and distribution of relief payments from local poor relief tables for 512 rural parishes in Flanders (present-day Belgium) in 1807 to examine spatial variation in poor relief  practices in a region characterised by well-established local poor relief institutions and marked socio-economic differences. By combining data on poor relief with local data on population, landholding and occupational structure, we map out the relative importance of regional economies and local variation in producing distinct poor relief regimes. The results show that although local variation was considerable, the nature and extent of this variation interacted with structural socio-economic characteristics to produce regional patterns, signaling that local variation did not so much contradict as constitute regional patterns in poor relief regimes. The importance of socio-economic characteristics in determining both regional patterns and local variation supports our more general contention that local and regional levels of analysis represent a more fruitful avenue for understanding variations in poor relief practices than national differences in legislation, and therefore has implications for the comparative study of poor relief practices in a wider international context.”