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The Long March of History: Farm Wages, Population and Economic Growth, England 1209-1869

  • Gregory Clark

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

The paper forms three series for English farm workers 1209-1869: nominal day wages, the implied marginal product of a day of farm labour, and the purchasing power of a days’ wage in terms of farm workers’ consumption. These series suggest that labour productivity in English agriculture was already high in the middle ages. Further they fit well with one method of estimating medieval population which suggests a peak English population circa 1300 of nearly 6 million. Finally they imply that both agricultural technology and the general efficiency of the economy was static from 1250 till 1600. Economic changes were in these years entirely a product of demographic shifts. Finally in 1600 to 1800 technological advance in agriculture provided an alternative source of dynamism in the English economy.

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Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 540.

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Length: 60
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:05-40
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  1. John Munro, 2002. "Postan, Population, and Prices in Late-Medieval England and Flanders," Working Papers munro-02-04, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Munro, John H., 2002. "Wage-stickiness, monetary changes, and real incomes in late-medieval England and the Low Countries, 1300 - 1500: did money matter?," MPRA Paper 10846, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2002.
  3. Karakacili, Eona, 2004. "English Agrarian Labor Productivity Rates Before the Black Death: A Case Study," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 24-60, March.
  4. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
  5. Clark, Gregory, 1991. "Labor productivity and farm size in English agriculture before mechanization: A note," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 248-257, April.
  6. repec:cup:jechis:v:61:y:2002:i:04:p:1009-1036_04 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Clark, Gregory & Clark, Anthony, 2001. "Common Rights To Land In England, 1475 1839," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(04), pages 1009-1036, December.
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