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The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004

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  • Gregory Clark

Abstract

I use building workers' wages for 12092004 and the skill premium to consider the causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Real wages were trendless before 1800, as would be predicted for the Malthusian era. Comparing wages with population, however, suggests that the break from the technological stagnation of the Malthusian era came around 1640, long before the classic Industrial Revolution, and even before the arrival of modern democracy in 1689. Building wages also conflict with human capital interpretations of the Industrial Revolution, as modeled by Gary Becker, Kevin Murphy, and Robert Tamura; Oded Galor and David Weil; and Robert Lucas. Human capital accumulation began when the rewards for skills were unchanged and when fertility was increasing.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 113 (2005)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1307-1340

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:113:y:2005:i:6:p:1307-1340

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  1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of economic Growth," Working Papers 2000-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Ricardo, David, 1821. "On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 3, number ricardo1821.
  3. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1993. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1985. "English Workers' Real Wages: Reply to Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 145-153, March.
  5. Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Was an Industrial Revolution Inevitable? Economic Growth Over the Very Long Run," NBER Working Papers 7375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Schofield, R. S., 1973. "Dimensions of illiteracy, 1750-1850," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 437-454.
  7. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  8. Frank Geary & Tom Stark, 2004. "Trends in real wages during the industrial revolution: a view from across the Irish Sea," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(2), pages 362-395, 05.
  9. Horrell, Sara, 1996. "Home Demand and British Industrialization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 561-604, September.
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