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The transformation of labor supply in the pre-industrial world

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  • Koyama, Mark

Abstract

In pre-industrial economies labor supply curves bent backwards at very low levels of income. This changed in England before the industrial revolution (de Vries, 1994, 2008; Voth, 1998). Using a model of labor supply where consumption takes time, this paper shows that both an increase in the cost of subsistence and a fall in the price of time-intensive consumption could have generated an increase in hours worked but that only the latter would lead to an increase in the elasticity of labor supply. This model clarifies the role played by consumption in the behavior of labor on the eve of the onset of modern economic growth, distinguishing between an increase in hours worked caused by changing patterns of demand [the case of England] and an increase in hours worked caused by involution [the case of Italy and possibly Japan].

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:505-523
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.07.015
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    Cited by:

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    4. Chang, Juin-jen & Liu, Chia-ying & Wang, Wei-neng, 2018. "Conspicuous consumption and trade unionism," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 350-366.
    5. Mark Koyama, 2014. "The law & economics of private prosecutions in industrial revolution England," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 277-298, April.
    6. Motavasseli, Ali, 2016. "Essays in environmental policy and household economics," Other publications TiSEM b32e287e-169b-4e89-9878-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Desierto, Desiree & Koyama, Mark, 2024. "The Political Economy of Status Competition: Sumptuary Laws in Preindustrial Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 479-516, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor supply; Industrious revolution; Consumption; Time allocation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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