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The Household Budget Survey in Western Europe, 1795-1965


  • Gazeley, Ian

    () (University of Sussex)

  • Holmes, Rose

    () (University of Sussex)

  • Newell, Andrew T.

    () (University of Sussex)


We trace the development of the household expenditure survey from its conception during the Napoleonic Wars until the 1960s. We have compiled the first historical bibliography of household budget surveys in Western Europe and, using the surveys themselves as source material, have traced the development of their practice and methodology. First developed by private and academic researchers, and subsequently co-opted by governments, the surveys used the domestic consumption of working households to draw conclusions about the condition of labour. Their methodology evolved through international co-operation by researchers, and with informing the labour requirements of international trade as a priority. We argue that international networks and trans-national political structures exerted a strong influence on the development of surveys over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Gazeley, Ian & Holmes, Rose & Newell, Andrew T., 2018. "The Household Budget Survey in Western Europe, 1795-1965," IZA Discussion Papers 11429, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11429

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    budget studies; household expenditure surveys; living standards; cost of living inequality; working households; Europe; 20th century;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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