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Pessimism Preserved: Real Wages in the British Industrial Revolution

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  • Robert Allen
  • Robert C. Allen

Abstract

The paper compares Feinstein`s and Clark`s consumer price and real wage indices for the British industrial revolution. The sources for their weights and component price series are evaluated. While some of Clark`s innovations are improvements, many of his changes degrade the price index. A new price index is developed using the best components of Clark`s and Feinstein`s. This index is much closer to Feinstein`s than to Clark`s. The implied growth in real wages is also close to Feinstein`s and contradicts Clark`s `optimistic` view of rising working class living standards during the industrial revolution.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "Pessimism Preserved: Real Wages in the British Industrial Revolution," Economics Series Working Papers 314, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:314
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper314.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Komlos, 1993. "The secular trend in the biological standard of living in the United Kingdom, 1730-1860," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 46(1), pages 115-144, February.
    2. Crafts, N. F. R., 1982. "Regional price variations in England in 1843: An aspect of the standard-of-living debate," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 51-70, January.
    3. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
    4. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Renting The Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 206-210, March.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    6. Crafts, N. F. R., 1985. "English Workers' Real Wages During the Industrial Revolution: Some Remaining Problems," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(01), pages 139-144, March.
    7. Horrell, Sara, 1996. "Home Demand and British Industrialization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 561-604, September.
    8. Gregory Clark, 2001. "Farm Wages and Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution: England,1670–1869[This resea]," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 54(3), pages 477-505, August.
    9. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Commons Sense: Common Property Rights, Efficiency, and Institutional Change," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 73-102, March.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. links for 2010-02-11
      by Brad DeLong in Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand on 2010-02-11 14:05:21

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rosenbloom, Joshua L. & Weiss, Thomas, 2014. "Economic growth in the Mid-Atlantic region: Conjectural estimates for 1720 to 1800," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-59.
    2. Alex Trew, 2014. "Spatial Takeoff in the First Industrial Revolution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 707-725, October.
    3. C. Knick Harley, 2013. "British and European Industrialization," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _111, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Fouquet, Roger, 2012. "Trends in income and price elasticities of transport demand (1850–2010)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 62-71.
    5. Roger Fouquet & Peter J.G. Pearson, 2012. "The Long Run Demand for Lighting:Elasticities and Rebound Effects in Different Phases of Economic Development," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    6. Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2015. "How the Danes discovered Britain: the international integration of the Danish dairy industry before 1880," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 432-453.
    7. Robert C. Allen, 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 946-973, December.
    8. Ernesto López Losa & Santiago Piquero Zarauz, 2016. "Spanish real wages in the Northern-Western European mirror, 1500-1800. On the timings and magnitude of the Little Divergence in Europe," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1607, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    9. Allen, Robert C., 2009. "Engels' pause: Technical change, capital accumulation, and inequality in the british industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 418-435, October.
    10. Ian Gazeley & Sara Horrell, 2013. "Nutrition in the English agricultural labourer's household over the course of the long nineteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(3), pages 757-784, August.
    11. Roger Fouquet, 2014. "Editor's Choice Long-Run Demand for Energy Services: Income and Price Elasticities over Two Hundred Years," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 8(2), pages 186-207.
    12. Fouquet, Roger, 2014. "Long run demand for energy services: income and price elasticities over two hundred years," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Bernard Harris & Roderick Floud & Robert W. Fogel & Sok Chul Hong, 2010. "Diet, Health and Work Intensity in England and Wales, 1700-1914," NBER Working Papers 15875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Piotr Lewandowski & Pawel Chrostek & Jan Baran & Iga Magda & Maciej Lis & Anna Pankowiec & Piotr Szczerba & Maciej Bitner & Magdalena Kaminska, 2014. "Employment in Poland 2013. Labour in the Age of Structural Change," Books and Reports published by IBS, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych, number zwp2013 edited by Piotr Lewandowski & Iga Magda.
    15. Roger Fouquet, 2013. "Long Run Demand for Energy Services: the Role of Economic and Technological Development," Working Papers 2013-03, BC3.
    16. Fouquet, Roger, 2015. "The allocation of energy resources in the very long run," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62367, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Martin Ravallion, 2013. "The Idea of Antipoverty Policy," NBER Working Papers 19210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Real Wage; Consumer Price Index; Inequality; Industrial Revoution;

    JEL classification:

    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • 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
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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