Urbanization in History: A Process of Dynamic Interactions

By A. M. Van Der Woude; Akira Hayami et al. | Go to book overview

13 The Changing Structure of Urban Employment and its Effects on Migration Patterns in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century Japan

OSAMU SAITO

The Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University, Kunitachi, Tokyo, Japan

The labour market may be divided into two parts. The first consists of jobs in which people are employed for longish periods, sometimes for the whole of their lives, which provide opportunities for promotion and higher wages, and where employment is relatively secure. The second part consists of jobs which last a short time only, and where labour turnover is, therefore, high. The work-force in the first part of the market is 'internalized' in the firm, but that in the second part is not. A similar distinction existed in pre-modern times, the former type of employment being live-in service, and the latter casual labour. Apprentices in merchants' and craftmen's households tended to serve longer than farm servants, and, since casual work was available mainly in the towns, this distinction was more pronounced in urban than in rural employment. Of course, there are marked differences, as well as similarities, between the work-forces of modern corporations, and service and apprenticeships in pre-modern trades and crafts. In Europe, for instance, servants and apprentices were traditionally unmarried, and lived in households other than their parents'. Indeed, as Peter Laslett has stressed, a majority were 'life- cycle' servants.1 Thus the numbers of servants and apprentices, the proportion they formed of the urban work-force, and changes in the composition of this work-force over time must have affected migration from the countryside to the towns. Particularly relevant in this respect is recent criticism of the 'urban graveyard' model by Allan Sharlin and Ad van der Woude: calling attention to the status of servants and apprentices and to migrants' marriage behaviour, they have questioned the conventional view on

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The research on which this chapter is based was supported by a grant from the Japan Economic Research Foundation.
1
P. Laslett, "'Characteristics of the Western Family considered over time'". Family Life and Illicit Love in Earlier Generations ( Cambridge, 1977), ch. 1, p. 34.

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