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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/94

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

paratively well; but the better he lived, the worse the other members of his family lived. An agricultural labourer who boarded at the farmhouse received, on an average, 216 kroner ($58) a year, so that the value of his food might be estimated at about half of his income. Under such circumstances he had barely enough for his daily needs; for insurance against sickness or accident there was little left over, and still less for pleasures or for newspapers or other reading. The custom of boarding the farmhand seemed too deeply rooted to be changed. As an author wrote some years later in regard to it: 'It was based on the idea that a man could not work on such food as his family had to be content with.' This view may still be found among workmen in the towns, where it is a matter of course that the head of the family gets more abundant and more nourishing food than his wife and children; but for the farmhand of forty years ago who owned no land, it was misery. Generous employers sometimes supplemented the terribly inadequate wage by gifts, such as milk; but these gifts were not sufficient to insure even a tolerable living, and the worker had no legal right to claim them.

If the farmhand was so poor that he could barely make the scantiest living under the most favourable conditions, he was still worse off in the case of sickness or accident; and his only recourse in old age was the poorhouse.

But toward the end of the century the condition of farmhands began to improve. By 1892 their wages had risen to 486 kroner ($130) when they provided their own food and to 315 kroner ($84) when they boarded at the farmhouse. This was a greater advance than the figures would seem to indicate, for the price of food had greatly declined during the preceding twenty years. Moreover, that social legislation had begun, which in various ways secured a labourer, if misfortune came upon him. The statistics for 1910 show a further advance in the annual wages to 689 kroner ($185), and in spite of the higher price of food the farmhand could now get more for his money. On the other