Before Careers: Experiences of Wage Growth among Late Nineteenth-Century Swedish Cigar Workers
This article uses a new and detailed survey of cigar-making employers and employees to investigate male and female wage growth in the late nineteenth century. Swedish cigar workers in 1898 did not have careers like workers today do; instead, labor markets were more flexible, and workers were not much penalized for time out of the labor force. Job tenure was short, and firm-specific human capital was not significant. Women benefited from these flexible labor markets and, unlike today, were not penalized for childbearing. While cigar workers experienced some significant earnings growth, this was confined to the first few years in the industry. Men and women had similar earnings growth at first, but male earnings growth continued longer than female earnings growth, creating a gender earnings gap.
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