Globalisation, inequality and Swedish catch up in the late nineteenth century. Williamson’s real wage comparisons under scrutiny
The idea of rapid factor price convergence in the latter half of the nineteenth century stems from an article from 1995 by Jeffrey Williamson. That article presented real wage comparisons of unskilled urban workers for seventeen countries. Sweden, along with the rest of Scandinavia, appeared to be an influential case in accounting for much of the alleged factor price convergence taking place. This paper takes a closer look at all the three steps that have to be accomplished in order to establish real wage comparisons focusing on Sweden in relation to the US and the UK. The most important finding is twofold. First, that the US-Sweden wage gap is considerably smaller for industrial than for building workers, and second, that the rate at which Sweden’s real wages approached the American and the British has been overestimated. Swedish real wages did grow rapidly, but not as rapidly as Williamson’s comparison will have us to believe, because his real wage series does not constitute a representative account of the Swedish real wage experience. I argue that as we suffer from a serious paucity of data for narrow and thereby comparable selections of unskilled workers resorting to encompassing wage measures is a more viable option.
|Date of creation:||08 Nov 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Department of Economic History, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG|
Phone: 031-773 47 50
Fax: 031-773 47 39
Web page: http://www.econhist.gu.se/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592.
- Broadberry S. N., 1994.
"Comparative Productivity in British and American Manufacturing during the Nineteenth Century,"
Explorations in Economic History,
Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 521-548, October.
- Broadberry, S.N., 1992. "Comparative Productivity in British and American Manufacturing During the Nineteenth Century," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 399, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- R. V. Jackson, 1987. "The structure of pay in nineteenth-century Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(4), pages 561-570, November.
- Feinstein, Charles, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of the Williamson Curve," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(03), pages 699-729, September.
- O'Rourke, K. & Williamson, J.G., 1995.
"Open Economy Forces and Late 19th Century Scandinavian Catch-Up,"
95/6, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
- Kevin O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1995. "Open Economy Forces and Late 19th Century Scandinavian Catch-Up," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1709, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1995. "Open economy forces and late 19th century Scandinavian catch-up," Working Papers 199506, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
- Kevin O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1995. "Open Economy Forces and Late 19th Century Scandinavian Catch-Up," NBER Working Papers 5112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Hanson, John II, 1991. "Third world incomes before world war I: Further evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 367-379, July.
- Margo, Robert A. & Villaflor, Georgia C., 1987. "The Growth of Wages in Antebellum America: New Evidence," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 873-895, December.
- Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
- Williamson Jeffrey G., 1995.
"The Evolution of Global Labor Markets since 1830: Background Evidence and Hypotheses,"
Explorations in Economic History,
Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 141-196, April.
- Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1992. "The Evolution of Global Labor Markets Since 1830 Background Evidence and Hypotheses," NBER Historical Working Papers 0036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ward, Marianne & Devereux, John, 2003. "Measuring British Decline: Direct Versus Long-Span Income Measures," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(03), pages 826-851, September.
- O'Rourke, Kevin H & Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1996. "Factor Price Convergence in the Late Nineteenth Century," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(3), pages 499-530, August.
- Hanson, John II, 1988. "Third world incomes before World War I: Some comparisons," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 323-336, July.
- Betr N, Concha & Pons, Maria A., 2004. "Skilled and unskilled wage differentials and economic integration, 1870 1930," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 29-60, April.
- Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1996. "Was There a National Labor Market at the End of the Nineteenth Century? New Evidence on Earnings in Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 626-656, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:gunhis:0002. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jens Anmark)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.