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Institutions, wages, and inequality: The case of Europe and its periphery (1500-1899)

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  • Chor, Davin

Abstract

This paper explores the long-run relationship between institutions and wage inequality in Europe and its periphery using a two-sector model. When institutions improve, wages rise across the board, thus reducing the costs of rural-urban migration and skills acquisition relative to the expected urban wage. The subsequent increase in the supply of urban craftsmen can in turn lead to a narrowing of the relative gap between skilled and unskilled wages. These predictions are borne out by the historical data. Cities with stronger institutions experienced: (i) higher skilled and unskilled real wages, and (ii) lower levels of urban inequality, as measured by the skilled-unskilled wage ratio.
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  • Chor, Davin, 2005. "Institutions, wages, and inequality: The case of Europe and its periphery (1500-1899)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 547-566, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:42:y:2005:i:4:p:547-566
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    Cited by:

    1. Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "The skill premium and the ‘Great Divergence’," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 121-153, April.
    2. Chor, Davin, 2005. "Institutions, wages, and inequality: The case of Europe and its periphery (1500-1899)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 547-566, October.
    3. Fochesato, Mattia, 2018. "Origins of Europe’s north-south divide: Population changes, real wages and the ‘little divergence’ in early modern Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 91-131.
    4. Guido Alfani & Wouter Ryckbosch, 2015. "Was there a ‘Little Convergence’ in inequality? Italy and the Low Countries compared, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 557, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2010. "The population history of Germany: research strategy and preliminary results," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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