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Days Worked and Seasonality Patterns of Work in Eighteenth Century Denmark

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Abstract

The calculation of the number of days worked per year is crucial for understanding pre‐industrial living standards, and yet has presented considerable obstacles due to data scarcity. We present evidence on days worked and seasonality patterns of work using evidence from a large database of micro‐level labor market data for eighteenth century rural Denmark. We estimate that workers worked approximately 5.6 days per week when under full employment. Seasonality of work meant, however, that they were unlikely to find employment during the winter, bringing the estimated number of working days per year to 184. This is lower than often assumed in the literature on real wage calculations, but in line with recent evidence for Malmö and London. We find that days worked increased over the eighteenth century, consistent with the idea of an “industrious revolution”. We suggest however that this was probably mostly due to economic necessity rather than a consumer revolution, since unskilled and low skilled workers needed to work over 300 days per year to afford a subsistence basket.

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  • Jensen, Peter Sandholt & Radu, Cristina Victoria & Sharp, Paul Richard, 2019. "Days Worked and Seasonality Patterns of Work in Eighteenth Century Denmark," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 10/2019, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sdueko:2019_010
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    1. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Sharp, 2020. "Standards of Living and Skill Premia in Eighteenth Century Denmark: What can we learn from a large microlevel wage database?," Working Papers 0180, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Mario García-Zúñiga, 2020. "Builders’ Working Time in Eighteenth Century Madrid," Working Papers 0195, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Working year; seasonality patterns; real wages; annual workers; casual workers; Denmark; eighteenth century;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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