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The long march of history: Farm wages, population, and economic growth, England 1209-1869 -super-1

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  • GREGORY CLARK

Abstract

The article forms three series for English farm workers from 1209-1869: nominal day wages, the implied marginal product of a day of farm labour, and the purchasing power of a day's wage in terms of farm workers' consumption. These series suggest that labour productivity in English agriculture was already high in the middle ages. Furthermore, they fit well with one method of estimating medieval population that suggests a peak English population c.1300 of nearly 6 million. Lastly, they imply that both agricultural technology and the general efficiency of the economy were static from 1250 till 1600. Economic changes were in these years entirely a product of demographic shifts. From 1600 to 1800, technological advance in agriculture provided an alternative source of dynamism in the English economy. Copyright Economic History Society 2006.

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  • Gregory Clark, 2007. "The long march of history: Farm wages, population, and economic growth, England 1209-1869 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(1), pages 97-135, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:60:y:2007:i:1:p:97-135
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    1. Davenport, Frances Gardiner, 1906. "The Economic Development of a Norfolk Manor 1086-1565," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number davenport1906.
    2. John Munro, 2002. "Postan, Population, and Prices in Late-Medieval England and Flanders," Working Papers munro-02-04, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Oldland, 2014. "Wool and cloth production in late medieval and early Tudor England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(1), pages 25-47, February.
    2. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2016. "Review Essay on British Economic Growth, 1270-1870 by Stephen Broadberry, Bruce M. S. Campbell, Alexander Klein, Mark Overton, and Bas van Leeuwen," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 514-521, June.
    3. Bruce M. S. Campbell, 2010. "Nature as historical protagonist: environment and society in pre-industrial England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 281-314, May.
    4. Marc Klemp & Niels Framroze Møller, 2016. "Post-Malthusian Dynamics in Pre-Industrial Scandinavia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 841-867, October.
    5. Sara Horrell & Jane Humphries & Ken Sneath, 2015. "Consumption conundrums unravelled," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 830-857, August.
    6. Stephen H. Rigby, 2010. "Urban population in late medieval England: the evidence of the lay subsidies," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 393-417, May.
    7. Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2010. "Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-33, February.
    8. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Living standards and mortality since the middle ages," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(2), pages 358-381, May.
    9. Bruce M. S. Campbell, 2008. "Benchmarking medieval economic development: England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, c.1290 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(4), pages 896-945, November.
    10. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "Did Science Cause the Industrial Revolution?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(1), pages 224-239, March.
    11. Foreman-Peck, James & Zhou, Peng, 2014. "The Rise of the English Economy 1300-1900: A Lasting Response to Demographic Shocks," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2014/3, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    12. Kander, Astrid & Stern, David I., 2014. "Economic growth and the transition from traditional to modern energy in Sweden," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 56-65.
    13. Ian Gazeley & Sara Horrell, 2013. "Nutrition in the English agricultural labourer's household over the course of the long nineteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(3), pages 757-784, August.
    14. Kartik Ahuja & Mihaela van der Schaar & William R. Zame, 2015. "A Theory of Individualism, Collectivism and Economic Outcomes," Papers 1512.01230, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2016.
    15. Angeles, Luis, 2012. "On the causes of the African Slave Trade," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-91, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    16. Angela Redish & Warren E. Weber, 2011. "A model of commodity money with minting and melting," Staff Report 460, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    17. Mark Koyama, 2012. "Prosecution Associations in Industrial Revolution England: Private Providers of Public Goods?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 95-130.
    18. Angeles, Luis, 2008. "GDP per capita or real wages? Making sense of conflicting views on pre-industrial Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 147-163, April.
    19. Paul Slack, 2009. "Material progress and the challenge of affluence in seventeenth-century England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(3), pages 576-603, August.
    20. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2017. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as Birth Control in Pre-Transition England," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 413-436, April.
    21. Humphries, Jane & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2017. "Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260-1850," CEPR Discussion Papers 11999, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Roger Fouquet & Stephen Broadberry, 2015. "Seven Centuries of European Economic Growth and Decline," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 227-244, Fall.
    23. Amy Blakeway, 2015. "The sixteenth-century price rise: new evidence from Scotland, 1500–85," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(1), pages 167-190, February.
    24. Pamela Nightingale, 2010. "Gold, credit, and mortality: distinguishing deflationary pressures on the late medieval English economy," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(4), pages 1081-1104, November.
    25. Grantham George, 2015. "Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: An Overview," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 7-28, June.

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