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The Price of Bread
Regulating the Market in the Dutch Republic

$44.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series

  • Date Published: June 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108476386

$ 44.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • A prime contemporary concern - how to maintain fair market relations - is addressed through this study of the regulation of bread prices. This was the single most important economic reality of Europe's daily life in the early modern period. Jan de Vries uses the Dutch Republic as a case study of how the market functioned and how the regulatory system evolved and acted. The ways in which consumer behaviour adapted to these structures, and the state interacted with producers and consumers in the pursuit of its own interests, had major implications for the measurement of living standards in this period. The long-term consequences of the Dutch state's interventions reveal how capitalist economies, far from being the outcome of unfettered market economics, are inextricably linked with regulatory fiscal regimes. The humble loaf serves as a prism through which to explore major developments in early modern European society and how public market regulation affected private economic life.

    • Contributes to the modern debate about the effects of regulatory policy on the efficiency and fairness of market economies
    • Reveals how the Dutch Republic employed market regulations to control prices and its taxation policy within a capitalist system
    • Proposes that a 'wheat bread revolution' took place in Western Europe that transformed the cost of living in ways that were until now unexplored
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Like Galileo's telescope, The Price of Bread lets us see and understand a distant world - early modern Europe and especially the Dutch Republic. We learn what consumers ate, how standards of living changed, and why, in the capitalist Netherlands, taxation and market regulation took a fascinating and strikingly different turn.' Philip T. Hoffman, author of Why Did Europe Conquer the World?

    ‘This intriguing masterpiece explores the municipal system of Broodzetting introduced in the Netherlands in the 1590s that led to high bread prices in both good times and bad. How did they get away with it? Why did the poor not starve? Jan de Vries finds the answers in the precocious commercialisation and growth of the early modern Dutch economy.' Cormac Ó Gráda, author of Famine: A Short History and co-editor (with Guido Alfani) of Famine in European History

    ‘The Price of Bread is Jan de Vries at his best. By analyzing the price of bread, he uncovers deep underlying institutional structures that characterize the Dutch Republic and had important consequences for the country's development. His analysis sheds new light on political economy, consumption patterns and real incomes, and famines.' Jan Luiten van Zanden, author of The Origins of Globalization

    ‘With The Price of Bread, Jan de Vries offers us new insight into the pre-industrial Dutch economy through the prism of one sector. The book is rich in analysis and has ramifications that extend far beyond the regulation of bread prices. A must-read for anyone interested in institutional economies, standards of living, consumption, fiscal policies and state formation, and moral economies.' Bruno Blondé, co-editor of City and Society in the Low Countries

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108476386
    • length: 534 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 30 mm
    • weight: 1kg
    • contains: 59 b/w illus. 3 maps 106 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Regulatory Regime: Protecting the Consumer and Strengthening the State:
    1. Bread price regulation in Europe before the 1590s
    2. Free trade in grain?
    3. The Dutch broodzetting: the introduction of a 'new system' of bread price regulation
    4. Administering and enforcing the new bread price regulations
    5. The Dutch 'peculiar institution'
    Part II. Industrial Organization: The Producers in a Regulated Industry:
    6. Grain: the interaction of international trade and domestic production
    7. The milling sector: a trade harnessed to raison d'état?
    8. The baking enterprise: efficiency versus convenience
    9. The structure of bread prices
    Part III. Consumer Welfare and Consumer Choice:
    10. Crise de subsistence: did price regulation shelter consumers from food crises?
    11. Choosing what to eat in the early modern era
    12. Bread consumption: a wheat bread revolution?
    13. Measuring the standard of living: a demand-side approach
    Part IV. Perspective and Demise:
    14. Dutch bread price regulation in international perspective
    15. Bread price regulation renewed and abolished, 1776–1855

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    The Price of Bread

    Jan de Vries

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  • Author

    Jan de Vries, University of California, Berkeley
    Jan de Vries is Emeritus Professor of History and Economics and Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Industrious Revolution: Consumer Demand and the Household Economy, 1650 to the Present (Cambridge, 2008), which won the Ranki Prize. In 2000, he was awarded the Heineken Prize in History, and is a past president of the Economic History Association.

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