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The Trade Boards Act of 1909 and the Alleviation of Household Poverty


  • Jessica S. Bean
  • George R. Boyer


This article examines the effects of the 1909 Trade Boards Act on women's wage rates and income contributions to poor households. The Act established boards charged with setting minimum hourly wages in selected low-paid trades, and the majority of workers affected before the First World War were women. Many of the women whose wages were raised by the Act were the wives and daughters of low-skilled workers, while many others were sole earners who supported children or elderly parents. Our main finding is that the Trade Boards Act was effective in reducing household poverty rates among the women whose wages it would have increased. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

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  • Jessica S. Bean & George R. Boyer, 2009. "The Trade Boards Act of 1909 and the Alleviation of Household Poverty," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 240-264, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:47:y:2009:i:2:p:240-264

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hobson, John Atkinson, 1914. "Work and Wealth: A Human Evaluation," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number hobson1914.
    2. Constance Smith, 1914. "The Working of the Trade Boards Act in Great Britain and Ireland," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22, pages 605-605.
    3. Gazeley, Ian & Newell, Andrew T., 2007. "Poverty in Britain in 1904: An Early Social Survey Rediscovered," IZA Discussion Papers 3046, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Mark B. Stewart, 2004. "The employment effects of the national minimum wage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages 110-116, March.
    5. Dickens, Richard & Machin, Stephen & Manning, Alan, 1999. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Employment: Theory and Evidence from Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-22, January.
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