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Industrial composition, methods of compensation, and real earnings in the Great Depression


  • Hart, Robert A
  • Roberts, J Elizabeth


In an extension of an earlier paper (Hart and Roberts, 2012), we investigate the pay and working time of blue-collar timeworkers and pieceworkers during the Great Depression within British engineering firms. We compare and contrast southern/midland engineering districts of Britain with northern districts. The south/midlands region was dominated by piece-rated workers and by modern sections of the industry, such as vehicle and aircraft manufacture. Time-rated work predominated in northern districts where older sections - for example, marine and textile engineering - were clustered. These contrasting industrial compositions and associated payment methods offer further insights into manufacturing real earnings responses to the Great Depression.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, Robert A & Roberts, J Elizabeth, 2013. "Industrial composition, methods of compensation, and real earnings in the Great Depression," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2013-03, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2013-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ch. Pissarides., 2011. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 1.
    2. Robert A. Hart & J. Elizabeth Roberts, 2013. "Real wage cyclicality and the Great Depression: evidence from British engineering and metal working firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 197-218, April.
    3. Hart, Robert A., 2008. "Piece work pay and hourly pay over the cycle," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 1006-1022, October.
    4. Charles Brown, 1990. "Firms' Choice of Method of Pay," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 165-1-182-, April.
    5. Susan Helper & Morris M. Kleiner & Yingchun Wang, 2010. "Analyzing Compensation Methods in Manufacturing: Piece Rates, Time Rates, or Gain-Sharing?," NBER Working Papers 16540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Seiler, Eric, 1984. "Piece Rate vs. Time Rate: The Effect of Incentives on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(3), pages 363-376, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grace Weishi Gu & Eswar Prasad, 2018. "New Evidence on Cyclical Variation in Labor Costs in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 24266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hart, Robert A & Roberts, J Elizabeth, 2013. "The rise and fall of piecework-timework wage differentials: market volatility, labor heterogeneity, and output pricing," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2013-12, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.

    More about this item


    Industrial composition; piecework; timework; real earnings; the Great Depression;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • N64 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: 1913-

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