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East of Eden: Polish living standards in a European perspective, ca. 1500-1800


  • Mikolaj Malinowski


This research contributes to the debate on economic growth and income inequalities in early modern Europe by estimating real wages expressed in subsistence-ratios in the rural and urban sectors of the Kingdom of Poland. Furthermore, a method of weighting the wages with data on the employment structure is outlined and implemented. A comparison of the Polish-weighted real wages with the English and Italian suggests two waves of supremacy of the North Sea Region. The first divergence occurred prior to the early modern period and the second resumed in the 17th century. The paper incorporates non-wage-earning farmers and agricultural workers paid partially in kind into the analytical framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Mikolaj Malinowski, 2013. "East of Eden: Polish living standards in a European perspective, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 0043, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0043

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert C. Allen & Jean-Pascal Bassino & Debin Ma & Christine Moll-Murata & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2011. "Wages, prices, and living standards in China, 1738–1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64, pages 8-38, February.
    2. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 18-32, March.
    3. Blondé, Bruno & Hanus, Jord, 2010. "Beyond building craftsmen. Economic growth and living standards in the sixteenth-century Low Countries: the case of 's-Hertogenbosch (1500–1560)," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 179-207, August.
    4. 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.
    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. Angeles, Luis, 2008. "GDP per capita or real wages? Making sense of conflicting views on pre-industrial Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 147-163, April.
    7. Paolo Malanima, 2013. "When did England overtake Italy? Medieval and early modern divergence in prices and wages," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 45-70, February.
    8. van Zanden, Jan L., 1999. "Wages and the standard of living in Europe, 1500 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 175-197, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Piotr Koryś & Maciej Tymiński, 2015. "Occupational structure in the Polish territories at the turn of the 20th (1895-1900) century," Working Papers 2015-09, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    2. Nikolaj Malinowski & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2015. "National income and its distribution in preindustrial Poland in a global perspective," Working Papers 0076, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    3. Jörg Baten & Mikołaj Szołtysek, 2014. "A golden age before serfdom? The human capital of Central-Eastern and Eastern Europe in the 17th-19th centuries," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2014-008, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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    Real Wages; Little Divergence; Pre-industrial economic growth; Poland;

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