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Indentured Servitude: The Philadelphia Market, 1771-1773

Robert O. Heavner
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 38, No. 3 (Sep., 1978), pp. 701-713
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2119476
Page Count: 13
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Indentured Servitude: The Philadelphia Market, 1771-1773
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Abstract

In the 1770s Philadelphia had a well developed indentured servant market which served the city and the surrounding region. This market had many attributes of rational labor and physical capital markets and provided a means for financing migration and education. This study is of indenture records which include prices, term lengths, employer-provided amenities, and servant attributes to test hypotheses based on a rational buyer model. Results indicate that in response to the riskiness of a servant, the buyer used indexes of servant productivity and reliability; that the servant paid for amenities offered by the master, such as general education; and that there was a seasonal pattern of prices corresponding to seasonal activities of agriculture.

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