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A long period of «herring-driven» population growth in West Norway after 1815 waned in the decade 1866–75. The material economic basis that spring herring represented was a precondition of growth. The examples in this study fit a larger picture in which weaker population growth and occasionally population decline may be used as indicators of «crisis». At the same time, this is a confirmation of the neo-classical economic micro-theory in which better opportunities for employment encourage people to move. This will be particularly true of poorly developed societies which lack welfare arrangements and insurance facilities that could have provided security for those affected. The hypothesis that Haugesund and Stavanger were the main destinations chosen by migrants is confirmed in part. At the same time, the high percentage of locally born, particularly in the small town of Skudeneshavn and Skudenes municipality, demonstrates the negative consequences for these areas as attractive destinations for migration when the herring disappeared. Mining at Visnes together with a stronger focus on farming contributed to population growth in Avdalsnes municipality, unlike other rural areas, from the middle of the 1860s. According to received migration theory, these changes in the economic conditions should have led to increased emigration. Nonetheless, rates of emigration were low in relation to other districts. The explanation is that when the herring fishery in the Karmsund area collapsed, a significant precondition was lacking – an emigrant network. This, together with straightened times, delayed the start of mass emigration from the Karmsund area.
Mutual livestock insurance – a little discussed local historical phenomenon
The theme of this article is the insurance of livestock in mutual associations against loss to the individual owner as a result of illness, accident and death. Most attention is given to the breakthrough and growth of livestock insurance from the 1890s until 1920. At their most there were more than 400 local insurance associations. These are rarely mentioned in the local history literature. With the exception of the period around the First World War, mutual associations based on joint liability predominated. This was principally because these associations were better able to cope with issues of moral hazard and insurance swindle and the information assymetries between the insurance association and the insured than were investor owned, profit oriented insurance companies. The economic significance of livestock insurance was clearly highest in regard to workhorses which represented a substantial capital, particularly on holdings with one or two horses. The insurance of cattle was much less widespread, but interesting regional differences are found. The insurance of other farm animals was unusual, though there are local exceptions. The primary basis of livestock insurance disappeared when tractors replaced horses as the source of traction after 1950. Until 1920, the Norwegian state was much less helpful in developing livestock insurance than many continental countries.
In Trøndelag there was a large group of cotters already by 1645. It continued to increase for some time after that, but then diminished in the first part of the 1700s. For Orkdal the author has analysed at a detailed level the information about farmers and cotters found in tax returns and male censuses for the period 1610–1701. The grouping of tax subjects in these lists indicates that the cotter concept has remained unchanged in its content.
Ståle Dyrvik found for Etne in Hordaland that the cotters were tenant farmers at the smallest farms. Not so in Orkdal. The cotters there were a separate tax class regarding for instance the union tax and the contribution tax. On no occasion do we find that the cotters were taxed as farmers of registered farm land.
According to the poll tax of 1645 at least 85 % of the cotters were married or widowed. Retired men and lodgers can only constitute a small part of the cotter group, and the seaside cotters at Orkdalsøra are kept outside of the analysis. Most of those belonging to the cotter group must have belonged to what were later labelled cotters with or without land.
Among the seaside cotters at Øra and among the cotters of the mining company at Svorkmo, most households had some land. This seems to have been a typical economic adaptation also applicable to the cotters in the countryside, ensuring that the wives could contribute actively to the household.
In the 1740s, glaciers reached their maximum extent during the worsening climate of the Little Ice Age. In the valley Jostedalen in Inner Sogn one farm was completely destroyed while others suffered the loss of parts of their grazing land and their meadows. At the same time the whole country suffered from poor harvests and a subsistence crisis reaching maximum in 1742. During an inspection of five damaged farms in August 1742, the bailiff of Outer and Inner Sogn gained a first hand impression of the condition of the area. At the same time, prominent members of the local population worked to draw the attention of the authorities to the miserable state of the community. This resulted, in the spring of 1743, in an emergency measure taken by the regional governor in Bergen, under which 200 barrels of corn and some monies were sent for distribution among the people, the vicar and the sexton in the valley, making this community an exception in the region as regards emergency measures. These events are well documented. The article analyses the background for and the implementation of the emergency measures in Jostedalen. In addition, particular attention is given to the ways in which officials understood the experience and to the interaction between officials and the public. The question of whether the need was as great as officials claimed or was exaggerated in comparison with other needy communities in the west of Norway is also considered.