A profound change took place in land ownership and in the development of habitation and population in the early years of the Period of Autonomy, expedited by the tenant farm system, which had expanded from the 18th century. The splitting and big reallocation of houses upset the land use of villages and farms. There were more than 52 000 inhabitants in the province at the turn of the 1830s and 1840s. The cultivation of fields in three rotations, the growing of potatoes, the introduction of machines into farming and advances in cattle tending lessened the significance of cultivation in forest areas through burning.

In 1837 Jyväskylä was granted town rights as the province's first market place. Economic advances brought more artisans into Jyväskylä and the other population centres of the province. Sawmills erected by the bourgeois of the south coast and businessmen from Ostrobothnia added to the economic activity of the province. Timber was transported by means of schooners and rafts along Lake Päijänne to Anianpelto in Vääksy and from there by horse to Porvoo and Loviisa.