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GDP per capita or Real Wages? Making sense of coflicting views on pre-industrial Europe

  • Luis Angeles

This paper studies the apparent inconsistency between the evolution of GDP per capita and real wages in pre-industrial Europe. We show that these two measures will diverge when any of the three following factors are present: changes in income distribution, changes in labour supply per capita and changes in relative prices. We propose a methodology for measuring the e¤ects of these three factors and apply it to the case of 18th century England. For this particular episode the gap between the growth of GDP per capita and real wages can be successfully explained and the main explanatory factor is changes in labour supply per capita. Some further conclusions are drawn from the experience of England during the 19th century and Europe during the early modern period.

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File URL: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_26605_en.pdf
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Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2007_11.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2007_11
Contact details of provider: Postal: Adam Smith Building, Glasgow G12 8RT
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Web page: http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/business/research/

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  1. 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.
  2. van Zanden, Jan L., 1999. "Wages and the standard of living in Europe, 1500 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 175-197, August.
  3. Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
  4. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Wages, Prices, and Living Standards in China, Japan, and Europe, 1738-1925," Economics Series Working Papers 316, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Hoffman, Philip T. & Jacks, David S. & Levin, Patricia A. & Lindert, Peter H., 2002. "Real Inequality In Europe Since 1500," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 322-355, June.
  6. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  7. Angeles, Luis, 2008. "GDP per capita or real wages? Making sense of conflicting views on pre-industrial Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 147-163, April.
  8. de Vries, Jan, 1994. "The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 249-270, June.
  9. Gregory Clark & Gillian Hamilton, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," Working Papers 615, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521578257 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. N. F. R. Crafts, 1983. "British Economic Growth, 1700-1831: A Review of the Evidence," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 36(2), pages 177-199, 05.
  12. 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.
  13. Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1982. "Revising England's social tables 1688-1812," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 385-408, October.
  14. Gregory Clark, 2007. "The long march of history: Farm wages, population, and economic growth, England 1209-1869 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(1), pages 97-135, 02.
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