IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Seasonality in Nineteenth Century Labor Markets

  • Stanley Engerman
  • Claudia Goldin

In nineteenth century America, most employment, particularly that in agriculture, was highly seasonal. Thus the movement of labor from outdoor to indoor must have increased labor hours and days per year, thereby resulting in higher national income and greater economic growth. We provide the means to understand two additional dimensions to the decrease in seasonal employment. The first is the reduction in seasonality within each of the sectors. The second is the possibility that employment in the two sectors dovetailed, and that peak-load demands in agriculture were met by the release of labor from manufacturing enterprises. We find an increase to the 1880's and a subsequent decrease in the number of farm laborer per farm and in the harvest premium paid to farm laborers, suggesting that, within agriculture, peak-load employment was reduced. We also find distinct seasonal pattern to manufacturing employment in 1900, with decreases in both summer and winter, hinting that industrial workers may have found summer employment in nearby farming communities. But we conclude, for various reasons, that dovetailing of agricultural and industrial employment in the nineteenth century was slight. Seasonality was reduced during the nineteenth century largely because sectoral shifts transferred laborers from agriculture to manufacturing and because the influence of climate was reduced within each sector.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0020.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Economic Development in Historical Perspective, ed. D. Schaefer and T. Weiss. Stanford University Press, 1993.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0020
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0020. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.