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Was there an ‘Industrious Revolution’ before the Industrial Revolution? An Empirical Exercise for England, c. 1300-1830

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Author Info

  • Robert C. Allen

    (Nuffield College, University of Oxford)

  • Jacob Louis Weisdorf

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

It is conventionally assumed that the pre-modern working year was fixed and that consumption varied with changes in wages and prices. This is challenged by the twin theories of the ‘industrious’ revolution and the consumer revolution, positing a longer working year as people earned surplus money to buy novel goods. In this study, we turn the conventional view on its head, fixing consumption rather than labour input. Specifically, we use a basket of basic consumption goods and compute the working year of rural and urban day labourers required to achieve that. By comparing with independent estimates of the actual working year, we find two ‘industrious’ revolutions among rural workers; both, however, are attributable to economic hardship, and we detect no signs of a consumer revolution. For urban labourers, by contrast, a growing gap between their actual working year and the work required to buy the basket provides great scope for a consumer revolution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 10-14.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1014

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Related research

Keywords: Consumer Revolution; Cost-of-Living Index; Day Wages; ‘Industrious’ Revolution; Industrial Revolution; Labour Supply; Standard of Living;

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References

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  1. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India," Economics Series Working Papers 375, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Robert C. Allen & Jacob Louis Weisdorf, 2010. "Was there an ‘Industrious Revolution’ before the Industrial Revolution? An Empirical Exercise for England, c. 1300-1830," Discussion Papers 10-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  3. C. Knick Harley, 1998. "Cotton Textile Prices and the Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 51(1), pages 49-83, 02.
  4. Ugo Gragnolati & Daniele Moschella & Emanuele Pugliese, 2010. "The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal," LEM Papers Series 2010/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  5. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting For The Great Divergence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 160, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  2. Eric B. Schneider, 2012. "Real Wages and the Family: Adjusting Real Wages to Changing Demography in Pre-Modern England," Economics Series Working Papers Number 99, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Robert C. Allen & Jacob Louis Weisdorf, 2010. "Was there an ‘Industrious Revolution’ before the Industrial Revolution? An Empirical Exercise for England, c. 1300-1830," Discussion Papers 10-14, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Koyama, Mark, 2012. "The transformation of labor supply in the pre-industrial world," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 505-523.
  5. Johan Fourie, 2011. "Slaves as capital investment in the Dutch Cape Colony, 1652-1795," Working Papers 21/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  6. Paul R. Sharp & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2012. "French revolution or industrial revolution? A note on the contrasting experiences of England and France up to 1800," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 6(1), pages 79-88, January.
  7. Stephen Broadberry & Bruce Campbell & Alexander Klein & Mark Overton & Bas van Leeuwen, 2012. "British Economic Growth, 1270-1870: an output-based approach," Studies in Economics 1203, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  8. Robert Allen, 2013. "Poverty Lines in History, Theory, and Current International Practice," Economics Series Working Papers 685, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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