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Real wages and the family: Adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England

  • Schneider, Eric B.

This paper uses demographic data drawn from Wrigley et al.'s (1997) family reconstitutions of 26 English parishes to adjust Allen's (2001) real wages to the changing demography of early modern England. Using parity progression ratios (a fertility measure) and age specific mortality for children and parents, model families are predicted in two reference periods 1650–1700 and 1750–1800. These models yield two levels of interesting results. At the individual family level, we can measure how different families' real wages changed over the family life cycle as additional children were born. At the aggregate level, we can predict thousands of families using Monte Carlo simulation, creating a realistic distribution of median family real wages in the economy. There are two main findings. First, pregnancy and lactation do not create cyclical effects in the family's income. Instead, most families' welfare ratios decline steadily across the family life cycle until children begin to leave the household, increasing the welfare ratios. Second, Allen's real wages understate or match the median of the predicted demography-adjusted distributions.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 50 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 99-115

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:50:y:2013:i:1:p:99-115
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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  12. Jane Humphries, 2011. "The Lure of Aggregates and the Pitfalls of the Patriarchal Perspective: A Critique of the High Wage Economy Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _091, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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  14. Eric Schneider, 2012. "Real Wages and the Family: Adjusting Real Wages to Changing Demography in Pre-Modern England," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _099, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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  17. Jane Humphries, 2011. "The Lure of Aggregates and the Pitfalls of the Patriarchal Perspective: A Critique of the High Wage Economy Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers Paper 91, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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