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Child Labour and Health During the Industrialization in Western Europe with Special Reference to Prussia


  • Vögele Jörg Peter

    (1 Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany)

  • Liczbińska Grażyna

    (2 Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland)


Child labour is a controversial issue both in presentday as well as in past societies. In historical perspective, studies focus on the factory labour of children during the industrialization process. On the one hand, its contribution to the family income is mentioned as a potential positive effect on the living standard of the whole family, on the other hand reference is made to the permanent health risks for children working in the factories. Using qualitative sources, there were contemporary testimonies supporting both views. The present paper, thererfore, uses a rather quantitive approach referring to the number of working days lost due to illness, anthropometric indicators such a height and weight, the results of draft examinations as well as mortality differences and cause-of-death rates from “accidents” in urban and rural areas during the nineteenth century. Available data do not provide clear evidence of direct harmful effects of child labour; many indications point to a neutral or even positive effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Vögele Jörg Peter & Liczbińska Grażyna, 2023. "Child Labour and Health During the Industrialization in Western Europe with Special Reference to Prussia," Studia Historiae Oeconomicae, Sciendo, vol. 41(2), pages 63-78, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:vrs:sthioe:v:41:y:2023:i:2:p:63-78:n:4
    DOI: 10.14746/sho.2023.41.2.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kocka, Jürgen, 1990. "Arbeitsverhältnisse und Arbeiterexistenzen: Grundlagen der Klassenbildung im 19. Jahrhundert," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, volume 2, number 122875, November.
    2. Roderick Floud & Kenneth Wachter & Annabel Gregory, 1990. "Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number flou90-1, January.
    3. Humphries,Jane, 2011. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521248969, November.
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