Research Themes

Cooperating in care


Research Topics

A general description of the project can be found in the project description


Individual research topics are:

  • Delineating old age in pre-industrial societies
  • The savings required to purchase a pension that provided bare-bone subsistence
  • The development of life expectancy in pre-industrial Europe
  • The development of several types of old-age provisions
  • The effects of marriage patterns on the provision of welfare
  • Determinants of success of health insurance interventions in developing economies, such as sub-Saharan Africa
  • The role of donors in establishing collective action and community-based initiatives in the past and today
  • Expectations of old-age among the rural population of present-day Uganda
Research Questions
  • Which factors determined the emergence of different types of care – either provided by institutions for collective action, the market/ insurance companies, or the state?
    • What was the role of dissolving family ties, either due to social and cultural changes (such as the emergence of the Northwest European marriage pattern), or increased mobility, due to migration?
    • To what extent were elderly forced – due to the lack of help by their parents – to provide for themselves or was this a choice (agency)? What was the relationship between of changes in labour market participation and the ability of elderly to provide for themselves?
    • To what extent are there gender-differences in the treatment of elderly in the past?
    • What was the role of financial markets in allowing individuals to either prepare for the costs of care by saving, or borrowing to meet these expenses? To what degree do regional differences in the development of financial markets offer an explanation for regional differences in the development of welfare?
    • What was the impact of social developments, such as the emergence of large groups of urban professionals with the ability to rally behind demands for welfare?
    • What was the impact of changes in the way states, but also towns and village communities, thought about the question of care? At what point in time do we see ‘state activism’: state, town, and village governments taking responsibility for welfare?
  • What was the impact of various types of welfare? And how should we measure this? Does welfare spent/GDP provide us with a useful measure for pre-industrial societies? Should we take the increasing costs of care into account when we study long-term developments?
  • Which types of care were important at various points in time and do we observe differences in the development of several types of care (such as care for pregnant women, orphans, disabled, diseased and the elderly). If so, what can explain these differences?
    • How many people were in demand of specific types of care?
    • How did external shocks, such as warfare and plagues impact on demography and health?
    • And how well could societies respond to changes?
  • What are determinants of successful health insurance interventions in sub-Saharan African countries? What is the role of collective action and community-based initiatives in this?
    • What drives demand for health care insurance in developing countries?
    • How is this related to the type of economic exchange that people are commonly engaging in?
    • To what extent are these transactions governed by informal and formal institutions?
    • How do external actors, such as donors, contribute to the establishment of collective action and community-based initiatives and their functioning?
Research area and period
  • Holland, fifteenth - eighteenth centuries
  • Europe, 1000 AD - present
  • Present-day developing countries (mainly sub-Saharan Africa)
Preliminary results (click on topic to view preliminary results)
Related webpages

> Online article 'Commercial old-age provisions' by Jaco Zuijderduijn

> Website of Knowledge Centre on the History of Health Insurance Companies (Kenniscentrum Historie Zorgverzekeraars (KHZ))

Related datasets

> Description of dataset on guild boxes ('Bussen')

> Dataset on guild boxes ('Bussen')

Related publications


BOUMAN, Annemarie, ZUIJDERDUIJN, Jaco, and DE MOOR, Tine, 2012. From hardship to benefit: A critical review of the nuclear hardship theory in relation to the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern. Working Paper CGEH.

> click here for full article

Researchers involved