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1381 and the Malthus delusion

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  • Clark, Gregory

Abstract

What were income trends before the Industrial Revolution? Clark (2007b) argued both theoretically and empirically that pre-industrial income fluctuated, but was not trending upwards, a position Persson (2008) labeled “the Malthus Delusion.” Clark (2010a), in particular, estimated that pre-industrial English income was as high on average as in 1800. In contrast, Broadberry et al. (2011) estimate that income tripled between 1270 and 1800. One test of early income estimates is the share employed in farming. This paper, focusing on the poll tax returns of 1379–1381, shows that only 56–59% of the English population was in farming or fishing. This small share implies incomes in 1381 equivalent to those of 1800.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, Gregory, 2013. "1381 and the Malthus delusion," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 4-15.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:50:y:2013:i:1:p:4-15 DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.08.005
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    1. Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2002. "The ‘revolt of the early modernists’ and the ‘first modern economy’: an assessment," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 55(4), pages 619-641, November.
    2. Clark, Gregory, 2010. "The Consumer Revolution: Turning Point in Human History, or Statistical Artifact?," MPRA Paper 25467, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Robert C. Allen, 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 946-973, December.
    4. Rodney Edvinsson & Johan Söderberg, 2011. "A Consumer Price Index For Sweden, 1290–2008," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(2), pages 270-292, June.
    5. Broadberry,Stephen & Campbell,Bruce M. S. & Klein,Alexander & Overton,Mark & van Leeuwen,Bas, 2015. "British Economic Growth, 1270–1870," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107070783, December.
    6. Persson, Karl Gunnar, 2008. "The Malthus delusion," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(02), pages 165-173, August.
    7. Maddison, Angus, 2007. "Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199227204.
    8. 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.
    9. Gregory Clark & Michael Huberman & Peter H. Lindert, 1995. "A British food puzzle, 1770–1850," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(2), pages 215-237, May.
    10. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters,in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
    11. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Joseph & Smith, Brock, 2012. "Malthus, Wages, and Preindustrial Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(02), pages 364-392, June.
    12. Gregory Clark, 2009. "The Macroeconomic Aggregates for England, 1209-2008," Working Papers 919, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    13. Broadberry, Stephen; Campbell, Bruce; Klein, Alexander; Overton, Mark; Van Leeuwen, Bas., 2010. "English Economic Growth: 1270 - 1870," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 35, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    14. Gregory Clark & Joe Cummins & Brock Smith, 2010. "The Surprising Wealth of Pre-industrial England," Working Papers 1014, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rosenbloom, Joshua L. & Weiss, Thomas, 2014. "Economic growth in the Mid-Atlantic region: Conjectural estimates for 1720 to 1800," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-59.
    2. 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.
    3. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2012. "Agricultural output, calories and living standards in England before and during the Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 201212, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. Brunt, Liam, 2015. "Weather shocks and English wheat yields, 1690–1871," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 50-58.
    5. Tepper, Alexander & Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2015. "Accounting for breakout in Britain: The industrial revolution through a Malthusian lens," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, pages 219-233.
    6. Wallis, Patrick & Colson, Justin & Chilosi, David, 2016. "Puncturing the Malthus delusion: structural change in the British economy before the industrial revolution, 1500-1800," Economic History Working Papers 66816, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Malthusian economics; Pre-industrial growth; Pre-industrial demography;

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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