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Origins of Europe’s north-south divide: Population changes, real wages and the ‘little divergence’ in early modern Europe

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  • Fochesato, Mattia

Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the “little divergence” of late medieval and early modern Europe, focusing on the long run response of real wages to demographic changes. Through a quantitative analysis of the 14th–18th centuries series of real wages and population shocks in fourteen European cities, I find that in four north-western cities (Amsterdam, Antwerp, London, and Oxford) the urban real wages were detached from population before the Industrial Revolution, while, in the central and southern Europe wages had a moderate or negative response to population changes. In addition, I show that this different response dates back to the 16th century. I claim, that these two results support three possibly non alternative interpretations of the “little divergence”, either based on changes of fertility regimes, rural and urban labor organizations, or on the onset, in early modern north-western Europe, of non strictly Malthusian growth mechanisms.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:70:y:2018:i:c:p:91-131
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2018.07.002
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    2. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2020. "The Economic Impact of the Black Death," Working Papers 2020-14, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    3. Alfani, Guido, 2020. "Epidemics, inequality and poverty in preindustrial and early industrial times," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 520, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Desierto, Desiree & Koyama, Mark, 2020. "The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 14407, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Alfani, Guido, 2020. "Epidemics, inequality and poverty in preindustrial and early industrial times," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 520, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Rota, Mauro & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2020. "Italy and the Little Divergence in Wages and Prices: New Data, New Results," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 931-960, December.

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