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The Consumer Revolution: Turning Point in Human History, or Statistical Artifact?

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  • Clark, Gregory

Abstract

A Farewell to Alms argued based on wages, rents and returns on capital that the English by 1800 were no wealthier than in 1400. An argument against this has been the supposed consumer revolution of 1600-1750. Since ordinary families by 1750 begin routinely consuming former luxury goods, income must have risen much faster than wages through a concomitant industrious revolution. This paper argues that the consumer and industrious revolutions of 1600-1750 are artifacts created by misinterpreting the major source on consumption in these years, probate inventories. Properly interpreted there is no conflict between wages, income and consumption in England 1600-1750.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, Gregory, 2010. "The Consumer Revolution: Turning Point in Human History, or Statistical Artifact?," MPRA Paper 25467, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25467
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/25467/1/MPRA_paper_25467.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2010. "Malthus to Modernity: England’s First Fertility Transition, 1760-1800," MPRA Paper 25465, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Clark, Gregory & Werf, Ysbrand Van Der, 1998. "Work in Progress? The Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 830-843, September.
    4. E. A. Wrigley, 2007. "English county populations in the later eighteenth century -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(1), pages 35-69, February.
    5. Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2001. "The Longest Years: New Estimates Of Labor Input In England, 1760 1830," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(04), pages 1065-1082, December.
    6. Gregory Clark & Michael Huberman & Peter H. Lindert, 1995. "A British food puzzle, 1770–1850," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(2), pages 215-237, May.
    7. Gregory Clark, 2009. "The Macroeconomic Aggregates for England, 1209-2008," Working Papers 919, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian A.J. Keibek, 2016. "Correcting the probate inventory record for wealth bias," Working Papers 28, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, revised 21 Mar 2017.
    2. Gregory Clark & Joe Cummins & Brock Smith, 2010. "The Surprising Wealth of Pre-industrial England," Working Papers 1014, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    3. Clark, Gregory, 2013. "1381 and the Malthus delusion," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 4-15.
    4. Dobado-González, Rafael, 2013. "La globalización hispana del comercio y el arte en la Edad Moderna
      [The hispanic globalization of commerce and art in the early modern era]
      ," MPRA Paper 51112, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer Revolution Pre-Modern;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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