Before the 20th century more than 90 percent of the Swedish population lived in the countryside, and most of them were dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Thus, the study of our agrarian past is of vital importance to understand the history and the origins of modern society.
Agrarian history has a strong tradition at the Department of Economic History in Lund. Since the 1950s, some ten doctoral theses have been written on Swedish agrarian society, and as many with an international agrarian perspective, which makes agrarian history one of the strongest research fields at the department. The research extend over a wide range of subjects; from the development of grain trade, the changes in manorial demesne production and the rise of peasants' agrarian entrepreneurship in the 19th century Swedish countryside, to conditions for and significance of agriculture in developing countries today.
The research group in agrarian history has established the Historical Database of Scanian Agriculture. Longitudinal production series for grain and livestock are constructed for thousands of individual peasant households between 1700 and 1860, using new and unique historical sources, i.e. flexible priest tithes. The database provides new possibilities to study both the causes and the course of the agrarian revolution. For the first time actual changes in historical production outcomes can be elaborated with respect to natural conditions (soil, climate), institutional factors (trade regulations, taxes), economic incentives (price changes, market expansions), technological innovations and land enclosures, demographic changes as well as from a gender perspective.