IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/14652.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Italy and the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Stable Employment in Rural Areas

Author

Listed:
  • Weisdorf, Jacob
  • Rota, Mauro

Abstract

We provide a first-ever long-run index of wages of stable rural workers in early-modern Tuscany. These wages speak to two longstanding debates. The first concerns whether Italy’s early-modern downturn was an urban phenomenon only or an all-embracing one. Our data lend support to the former, since we do not detect any downturn in our early-modern rural wages. The second debate concerns whether high-waged workers prompted the Industrial Revolution. Earlier studies in this debate have been criticised for comparing urban wages when early factories emerged in rural areas. By comparing rural wages, we find that English labour cost only 10 per cent more than their Italian counterparts in 1650, but a staggering 150 per cent more in 1800. The revised timing of the divergence between England and Italy, and its overlap with England’s early mechanisation, raise a significant identification problem. Did high wages encourage mechanisation, or did mechanisation boost wages?

Suggested Citation

  • Weisdorf, Jacob & Rota, Mauro, 2020. "Italy and the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Stable Employment in Rural Areas," CEPR Discussion Papers 14652, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14652
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://cepr.org/publications/DP14652
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sidney Pollard, 1963. "Factory Discipline in the Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 16(2), pages 254-271, December.
    2. Mokyr, Joel, 2001. "The rise and fall of the factory system: technology, firms, and households since the industrial revolution," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-45, December.
    3. Mikołaj Malinowski, 2016. "Little Divergence revisited: Polish weighted real wages in a European perspective, 1500–1800," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 20(3), pages 345-367.
    4. Robert C. Allen, 2019. "Real wages once more: a response to Judy Stephenson," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 72(2), pages 738-754, May.
    5. de Vries, Jan, 1994. "The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 249-270, June.
    6. Floud,Roderick & Fogel,Robert W. & Harris,Bernard & Hong,Sok Chul, 2011. "The Changing Body," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521705615, November.
      • Floud,Roderick & Fogel,Robert W. & Harris,Bernard & Hong,Sok Chul, 2011. "The Changing Body," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521879750, November.
    7. Roderick Floud & Robert W. Fogel & Bernard Harris & Sok Chul Hong, 2011. "The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number foge10-1, January.
    8. Alessandro Nuvolari & Bart Verspagen & Nick von Tunzelmann, 2011. "The early diffusion of the steam engine in Britain, 1700–1800: a reappraisal," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 5(3), pages 291-321, October.
    9. Rota, Mauro & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2019. "Expensive Labour and the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Stable Employment in Rural Areas," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 442, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    10. Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2001. "The Longest Years: New Estimates Of Labor Input In England, 1760–1830," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 1065-1082, December.
    11. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, November.
    12. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    13. Guido Alfani & Marco Percoco, 2019. "Plague and long‐term development: the lasting effects of the 1629–30 epidemic on the Italian cities," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1175-1201, November.
    14. Jennifer Tann & M. J. Breckin, 1978. "The International Diffusion of the Watt Engine, 1775-1825," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 31(4), pages 541-564, November.
    15. Vries,Jan de, 2008. "The Industrious Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521719254, November.
    16. R. C. Allen & J. L. Weisdorf, 2011. "Was there an ‘industrious revolution’ before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300–1830," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 715-729, August.
    17. Sharp, Paul & Strulik, Holger & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "The determinants of income in a Malthusian equilibrium," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 112-117.
    18. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 363-389, August.
    19. Price V. Fishback, 1998. "Operations of "Unfettered" Labor Markets: Exit and Voice in American Labor Markets at the Turn of the Century," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 722-765, June.
    20. 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.
    21. Jane Humphries, 2013. "The lure of aggregates and the pitfalls of the patriarchal perspective: a critique of the high wage economy interpretation of the British industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(3), pages 693-714, August.
    22. Clark, Gregory & Werf, Ysbrand Van Der, 1998. "Work in Progress? The Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 830-843, September.
    23. Giovanni Federico & Paolo Malanima, 2004. "Progress, decline, growth: product and productivity in Italian agriculture, 1000–2000," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(3), pages 437-464, August.
    24. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1991. "Unemployment, employment contracts, and compensating wage differentials: michigan in the 1890s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 605-632, September.
    25. Guido Alfani, 2013. "Plague in seventeenth-century Europe and the decline of Italy: an epidemiological hypothesis," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 17(4), pages 408-430, November.
    26. Federico, Giovanni & Nuvolari, Alessandro & Vasta, Michelangelo, 2019. "The Origins of the Italian Regional Divide: Evidence from Real Wages, 1861–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 63-98, March.
    27. Paolo Malanima, 2013. "When did England overtake Italy? Medieval and early modern divergence in prices and wages," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 17(1), pages 45-70, February.
    28. Robert W. Fogel & Nathaniel Grotte, 2011. "An Overview of The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700," NBER Working Papers 16938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. Vries,Jan de, 2008. "The Industrious Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521895026, November.
    30. Alun Howkins & Nicola Verdon, 2008. "Adaptable and sustainable? Male farm service and the agricultural labour force in midland and southern England, c.1850–19251," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(2), pages 467-495, May.
    31. Ridolfi, Leonardo, 2019. "Six Centuries of Real Wages in France from Louis IX to Napoleon III: 1250–1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 589-627, September.
    32. Ian Blanchard, 1978. "Labour Productivity and Work Psychology in the English Mining Industry, 1400-1600," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 31(1), pages 1-24, February.
    33. Gary, Kathryn, 2019. "The distinct seasonality of early modern casual labor and the short durations of individual working years: Sweden 1500-1800," Lund Papers in Economic History 189, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Mauro Rota & Jacob Weisdorf, 2021. "Italy and the little divergence in wages and prices: evidence from stable employment in rural areas," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 74(2), pages 449-470, May.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Rota, Mauro & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2019. "Expensive Labour and the Industrial Revolution: Evidence from Stable Employment in Rural Areas," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 442, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Mauro Rota & Jacob Weisdorf, 2021. "Italy and the little divergence in wages and prices: evidence from stable employment in rural areas," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 74(2), pages 449-470, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260–1850," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(623), pages 2867-2887.
    5. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting for the great divergence," Economic History Working Papers 54573, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    6. Judy Z. Stephenson, 2020. "Working days in a London construction team in the eighteenth century: evidence from St Paul's Cathedral," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 73(2), pages 409-430, May.
    7. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Industrious Selection: Explaining Five Revolutions and Two Divergences in Eurasian Economic History within a Unified Growth Framework," MPRA Paper 73862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Sharp, 2019. "Days Worked and Seasonality Patterns of Work in Eighteenth Century Denmark," Working Papers 0162, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    9. Andrés Calderón-Fernández & Héctor García-Montero & Enrique Llopis-Agelán, 2017. "New research guidelines for living standards, consumer baskets, and prices in Madrid and Mexico," Working Papers 097, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    10. Rota, Mauro & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2019. "Why was the First Industrial Revolution English? Roman Real Wages and the Little Divergence within Europe Reconsidered," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 400, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Mark Koyama, 2009. "The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From the Black Death to the Industrious Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _078, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    12. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane, 2019. "Children’s work and wages in Britain, 1280–1860," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-1.
    13. Sara Horrell & Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Working for a Living? Women and Children’s Labour Inputs in England, 1260-1850," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _172, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    14. Mario García-Zúñiga, 2020. "Builders’ Working Time in Eighteenth Century Madrid," Working Papers 0195, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    15. Sara Horrell, 2023. "Household consumption patterns and the consumer price index, England, 1260–1869," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 76(4), pages 1023-1050, November.
    16. Milanovic, Branko & Mijatovic, Bosko, 2019. "Real urban wage in an agricultural economy without landless farmers: Serbia, 1862-1910," MPRA Paper 92585, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Robert C. Allen, 2015. "The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(1), pages 1-22, February.
    18. Mark Koyama, 2009. "The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From the Black Death to the Industrious Revolution," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _078, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    19. Gary, Kathryn E. & Olsson, Mats, 2019. "Men at work: Real wages from annual and casual labour in southern Sweden 1500–1850," Lund Papers in Economic History 194, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    20. Boško Mijatović & Branko Milanović, 2021. "The real urban wage in an agricultural economy without landless farmers: Serbia, 1862–1910," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 74(2), pages 424-448, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Stable employment; Economic growth; Industrial revolution; Great divergence; Living standards; Prices; Wages; Wage premia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
    • J8 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14652. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.