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DAVIES, DAVID. - [PRESENTATION-COPY OF THE FIRST CONSUMER BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS]

The Case of Labourers in Husbandry Stated and Considered, in Three Parts. Part I. a View of Their Distressed Condition. Part II. the Principal Causes of Their Growing Distress and Number, and the consequent increase of the poor-rate. Part III. Means of Relief Proposed. With an appendix; containing a collection of accounts, shewing the earnings and expences of labouring families, in different parts of the kingdom.

lyn48288

Bath, R. Cruttwell, 1795. Large8vo. Bound in later half cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Presentation inscription from the auhtor to top of title page: "From the Author". Title page and first few leafes with brownspotting, otherwise a fine copy. Lacking the half title. Pp. 3-8, 200 + the errata slip inserted after the title page. ¶ First edition of this landmark work in scientific social inquiry; constituting one of the earliest microeconomic- and consumer behavior analyses. Davies profoundly influenced social history and initiated the entire field of consumer behavior analysis, two areas of study which were to dominate 19th century economics, relevant not only to economic and social history, but also to present day economic analysis. Davies's work anticipates Eden's "The State of The Poor" (PMM 249) by two years.

In the present work, Davies discusses in detail the causes of the poverty of agricultural labourers in England, linking the high prices of goods with poverty, and proposes measures to relieve the labourers, including linking their daily wage to the price of bread. Davies's observations demonstrated the failings of the contemporary Poor Laws and was by many seen as a direct criticism of the central policy making (or lack thereof).

"The differences in consumption of poor and rich families excited attention and often compassion, but apparently never quantitative analysis, for many centuries. Finally in England in the 1790's two very different investigators made extensive compilations of workingmen's budgets. [Davies in 1795, Eden in 1797]. Both were stimulated to this task by the distress of the working classes at this time." (Stigler, The Early History of Empirical Studies of Consumer Behavior).

"Was bread Giffen? The demand for food in England circa 1790" (in Review of Economics and Statistics, 1977, Vol. 59, issue 2, pp. 225-29). Koenker developed a problem in statistical demand analysis using samples from the budgets recorded in these works. "Two seminal budget studies by .. .Davies ... and ... Eden are employed ... to investigate the place of bread in the diets of English rural laborers at the end of the eighteenth century. Because of the considerable geographical and temporal dispersion in prices of foodstuffs found in these budgets, they afford a unique opportunity to study the influences of both prices and income on individual household consumption decisions. In particular a test is made of the famous hypothesis, attributed by Marshall to Robert Giffen, that a rise in the price of bread, ceteris paribus, increases its consumption among the lower classes."

The budget studies to which Koenker refers comprise the 70-page appendix. Davies began collecting statistical data on the poor in 1787 while a rector in the parish of Barkham, Berkshire. "He collected six detailed budgets of 'typical' agricultural laborers living in Barkham and circulated these budgets widely to friends throughout the kingdom. Some of these correspondents were persuaded to produce similar budgets for their own localities. In 1795 Davies edited 127 of these budgets, wrote a dispassionate plea for a minimum wage law tied to the price of wheat, and published both as The Case of Labourers in husbandry." (Koenker). In making the case for government intervention Davies attacks rampant ignorance and prejudice toward the poor, in particular the notion that the poor are profligate creatures of habit. "It is wonderful how readily even men of sense give in to this censure." (p. 31).

Davies's studies "were the first examples of studies in that long and semi-honorable liberal tradition of econometrically snooping into the private lives of the poor. By the mid 19th century such studies were being conducted all over Europe by such notables as Ernst Engel, Frederick Engels, Frederick LePlay and others." (Koenker, Applied Econometrics)

David Davies (1742-1819), English clergyman and social commentator, was ordained in 1782 and became the rector of Barkham parish, where he remained incumbent until his death.

Kress B2916
Goldsmith 16422.
Not in Einaudi.

42 333 SEK

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