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The rise of the middle class: The income gap between salaried employees and workers in Sweden, 1830-1935

Author

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  • Bengtsson, Erik

    () (Department of Economic History, Lund University)

  • Prado, Svante

    (Department of Economy and Society, University of Gothenburg)

Abstract

We present the first comprehensive, long run salary information on Swedish middle-class employees before the twentieth century. Our data include school teachers, professors, clerks, policemen and janitors in Stockholm 1830–1935. We use the new data to compare the annual earnings of these middle-class employees with the annual earnings of farm workers and manufacturing workers. The results show that the income gap between the middle class and the working class widen drastically from the mid-nineteenth century to a historically high level during the 1880s and 1890s. The differentials then decreased during the first four decades of the twentieth century. The bulging earnings advantage of middle-class employees vis-à-vis unskilled workers chimes with Kocka’s depiction of the latter half of the nineteenth century as the era of the bourgeoisie.

Suggested Citation

  • Bengtsson, Erik & Prado, Svante, 2019. "The rise of the middle class: The income gap between salaried employees and workers in Sweden, 1830-1935," Lund Papers in Economic History 186, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0186
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    3. 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.
    4. Christer Lundh & Svante Prado, 2015. "Markets and politics: the Swedish urban–rural wage gap, 1865–1985," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 67-87.
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    6. Jonas Ljungberg & Anders Nilsson, 2009. "Human capital and economic growth: Sweden 1870–2000," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 3(1), pages 71-95, January.
    7. Robert Anderton & Paul Brenton & Eva Oscarsson, 2002. "What’s trade got to do with it? Relative demand for skills within Swedish manufacturing," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 138(4), pages 629-651, December.
    8. Huberman, Michael, 2004. "Working Hours of the World Unite? New International Evidence of Worktime, 1870 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(04), pages 964-1001, December.
    9. H. M. Boot, 1999. "Real incomes of the British middle class, 1760-1850: the experience of clerks at the East India Company," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 52(4), pages 638-668, November.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
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    13. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1996. "Globalization, Convergence, and History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 277-306, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; salaries; income inequality; middle class; Sweden;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • 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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