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How Prosperous were the Romans? Evidence from Diocletian`s Price Edict (301 AD)

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  • Robert Allen
  • Robert C. Allen

Abstract

The paper compares the standard of living of labourers in the Roman Empire in 301 AD with the standard of living of labourers in Europe and Asia from the middle ages to the industrial revolution. Roman data are drawn from Diocletian`s Price Edict. The real wage of Roman workers was like that of their counterparts in the lagging parts of Europe and much of Asia in the middle of the eighteenth century. Roman workers earned just enough to buy a minimal subsistence consumption basket. Real wages were considerably higher in the advanced parts of Europe in the eighteenth century, as they had been in Europe generally following the Black Death in 1348-9.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 363.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:363

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Keywords: Standard of Living; Real Wage; Roman Empire; Long Run Economic Growth;

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References

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2002. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
  3. Köpke, Nikola & Baten, Jörg, 2003. "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 265, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.
  4. zmucur, S leyman & Pamuk, Sevket, 2002. "Real Wages And Standards Of Living In The Ottoman Empire, 1489 1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 293-321, June.
  5. Goldsmith, Raymond W, 1984. "An Estimate of the Size and Structure of the National Product of the Early Roman Empire," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 30(3), pages 263-88, September.
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  1. links for 2010-02-11
    by Brad DeLong in Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand on 2010-02-11 08:05:21
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Cited by:
  1. Ashenfelter, Orley, 2012. "Comparing Real Wage Rates," IZA Discussion Papers 6500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Orley Ashenfelter, 2012. "Comparing Real Wage Rates: Presidential Address," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 617-42, April.
  3. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2011. "Technology and the Great Divergence," Economics Series Working Papers 548, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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