What did retirement cost back then? The evolution of corrody prices in Holland, c. 1500-1800

Number: 
53
Author: 
Zuijderduijn, J.

The cost of retirement has a strong impact on social processes. We study the prices individuals in Holland paid for corrodies: contracts providing elderly lifelong accommodation and care in hospitals. Around 1500 corrodies were relatively inexpensive, and within reach of those people able to raise the equivalent of c. 250 day wages of a skilled labourer if they wished to stay in a nursing hall and c. 500 day wages if they preferred an apartment of their own. In later centuries the real costs of retiring at least doubled. We argue that in the late Middle Ages spending old age in a retirement home was open to a relatively large part of the population, and that access to this type of care declined in the centuries that followed. We claim the later Middle Ages were a ‘golden age for the pensioner’ and discuss this finding in terms of the development of family ties.