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

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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. 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. 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.
    3. Erik Bengtsson, 2017. "Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800–1910: Workers’ share of growing incomes," Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research (IHE-EHR), Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociación Española de Historia Económica, vol. 13(03), pages 180-189.
    4. Feinstein, Charles, 1988. "The Rise and Fall of the Williamson Curve," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(3), pages 699-729, September.
    5. 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.
    6. 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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    8. Robert Anderton & Paul Brenton & Eva Oscarsson, 2014. "What's Trade Got to Do with It? Relative Demand for Skills within Swedish Manufacturing," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: INTERNATIONAL TRADE, DISTRIBUTION AND DEVELOPMENT Empirical Studies of Trade Policies, chapter 10, pages 205-227, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; salaries; income inequality; middle class; Sweden;
    All these keywords.

    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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