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Running out of time: using job ads to analyse the demand for messengers in the twentieth century
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Society, Culture and Identity (SKI).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0018-8720
Department of Economic History, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Department of ALM and Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0340-9269
2023 (English)In: Scandinavian Economic History Review, ISSN 0358-5522, E-ISSN 1750-2837, Vol. 71, no 3, p. 299-318Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Youth labour remained important well into the twentieth century, although it is often elusive in traditional sources. In this article, we investigate messengers – a category of occupational titles, including errand and office boys, which is thought of as youth jobs. We sketch the long-term development of the occupation by making use of digitised Swedish daily newspapers and discuss demand-side, supply-side and institutional factors for the disappearance of the occupation. Our investigation suggests that the messenger jobs reached their peak around 1945 and thereafter decreased to low levels in the 1960s. We find that employers looking for messengers were large organisations that needed in-house help with deliveries and simple office tasks. These employers originally aimed at young men aged 15–17 years. The minimum age requirement was not loosened over time; instead, employers began to announce for older workers. We interpret this as employers’ adapting to a situation where the supply of young messengers had decreased. Employers made their ads appealing by emphasising good working conditions and career prospects, indicating that there was still a demand for messengers despite the changing times.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2023. Vol. 71, no 3, p. 299-318
Keywords [en]
Youth jobs, digitised newspapers, labour markets, occupations, twentieth century
National Category
Economic History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54675DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2022.2106300ISI: 000847404100001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85136881276OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-54675DiVA, id: diva2:1692380
Available from: 2022-09-01 Created: 2022-09-01 Last updated: 2023-11-13Bibliographically approved

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Håkansson, Peter Gladoic

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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