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GDP per capita or real wages? Making sense of conflicting views on pre-industrial Europe

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  • Angeles, Luis

Abstract

This paper studies the apparent inconsistency between the evolution of GDP per capita and real wages in pre-industrial Europe. We show that these two measures will diverge when any of the three following factors are present: changes in income distribution, changes in labour supply per capita and changes in relative prices. We propose a methodology for measuring the effects of these three factors and apply it to the case of 18th century England. For this particular episode the gap between the growth of GDP per capita and real wages can be successfully explained and the main explanatory factor is changes in labour supply per capita. Some further conclusions are drawn from the experience of England during the 19th century and Europe during the early modern period.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:45:y:2008:i:2:p:147-163
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    1. Luis Angeles, 2013. "On the Causes of the A frican Slave Trade," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 1-26, February.
    2. 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.
    3. Tirthankar Roy, 2012. "Consumption Of Cotton Cloth In India, 1795–1940," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 52(1), pages 61-84, March.
    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. Broadberry, Stephen & Campbell, Bruce M.S. & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 16-27.
    6. Mark Koyama, 2009. "The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From the Black Death to the Industrious Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _078, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    7. Mikolaj Malinowski, 2013. "East of Eden: Polish living standards in a European perspective, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 0043, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    8. 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, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    9. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane, 2019. "Children’s work and wages in Britain, 1280–1860," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-1.
    10. Van Leeuwen, Bas & van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli & Foldvari, Peter, 2012. "Education as a driver of income inequality in twentieth-century Africa," MPRA Paper 43574, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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