Poverty and Tax Exemptions in Mid-Nineteenth Century Finland
Voutilainen, M. (2017). Poverty and Tax Exemptions in Mid-Nineteenth Century Finland. Journal of Finnish Studies, 20 (1), 67-96.
Published inJournal of Finnish Studies
© Journal of Finnish Studies, 2017. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
The topic of this article is the nature and social character of Finnish rural poverty during the early stages of industrialization. Specifically, I analyze households exempted from two separate taxes in order to locate and study the rural poor. Contrary to several previous considerations deeming taxation sources unreliable in poverty studies, it is shown that under controlled settings tax exemption information does display promising features. These include a high exemption percentage of households without adult male members, small average household size of the tax exempted and a clear concentration of the exemptions on the lower rural social classes. My findings also highlight the fact that conclusions on the usability of the exemption information depend heavily on the selection of the tax studied. Taxes levied at individual level were not necessarily dependent on the households' economic status, and similarly household level taxes may have been independent of the inhabitants' social and economic conditions. On average, the exemption rates are in line with several accounts from pre-industrial Western Europe. ...