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Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800 to 1910 - Workers' share of growing income

Author

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  • Bengtsson, Erik

    (Department of Economic History, Lund University)

Abstract

One of the major ways in which economic inequality can increase is when the development of wages of ordinary workers trail productivity and GDP growth, meaning that the increasing riches fall in the hand of other social groups (top employees, owners of land and capital). This paper investigates the relationship between wages and GDP in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1800 to 1910, using wage series for workers in agriculture as well as crafts and industry. It shows wages trailing especially in Norway from 1840 to the mid-1870s but also in Denmark in the 1850s and 1860s. On the other hand, wages generally increase faster than GDP in the 1880s and 1890s. These developments are explained with labour supply (population growth, migration) as well as class conflict and social policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Bengtsson, Erik, 2016. "Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800 to 1910 - Workers' share of growing income," Lund Papers in Economic History 142, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0142
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Svante Prado, 2010. "Fallacious convergence? Williamson’s real wage comparisons under scrutiny," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 4(2), pages 171-205, June.
    2. Erik Bengtsson, 2014. "Labour's share in twentieth-century Sweden: a reinterpretation," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(3), pages 290-314, November.
    3. O'Rourke, Kevin & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1994. "Late Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Factor-Price Convergence: Were Heckscher and Ohlin Right?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 892-916, December.
    4. Berger, Helge & Spoerer, Mark, 2001. "Economic Crises And The European Revolutions Of 1848," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(2), pages 293-326, June.
    5. Hanes, Christopher, 1993. "The Development of Nominal Wage Rigidity in the Late 19th Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 732-756, September.
    6. Bengtsson, Erik & Waldenström, Daniel, 2018. "Capital Shares and Income Inequality: Evidence from the Long Run," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 712-743, September.
    7. Hatton, T.J. & Williamson, J.G., 1992. "What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Ninteenth Century," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1614, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wages; living standards; inequality; working class; Denmark; Norway; Sweden;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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