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Real wages and the origins of modern economic growth in Germany, 16th to 19th centuries

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  • Uebele, Martin
  • Pfister, Ulrich
  • Riedel, Jana

Abstract

The study develops two new real wages series for Germany c. 1500-1850 and analyzes their relationship with population size. From 1690 data density allows the estimation of a structural time series model of this relationship. The major results are the following: First, there was a strong negative relationship between population and the real wage until the middle of the seventeenth century. The dramatic rise of material welfare during the Thirty Years War was thus entirely due to the war-related population loss. Second, the relationship between the real wage and population size was much weaker in the eighteenth than in the sixteenth century; the fall of the marginal product of labor was less pronounced, and the beginning of the eighteenth century saw a marked increase of labour demand. Third, labor productivity underwent a strong positive shock during the late 1810s and early 1820s, and continued to rise at a weaker pace during the following decades. This growth was only temporarily interrupted by negative shocks uring the late 1840s and early 1850s. Results two and three suggest the onset of sustained economic growth well before the beginnings of industrialization, which set in during the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

Suggested Citation

  • Uebele, Martin & Pfister, Ulrich & Riedel, Jana, 2012. "Real wages and the origins of modern economic growth in Germany, 16th to 19th centuries," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62076, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc12:62076
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    Cited by:

    1. Sheilagh Ogilvie & Markus Küpker, 2015. "Human Capital Investment in a Late-Developing Economy: Evidence from Württemberg, c. 1600 – c. 1900," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1528, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Andrés Calderón-Fernández & Héctor García-Montero & Enrique Llopis-Agelán, 2017. "New research guidelines for living standards, consumer baskets, and prices in Madrid and Mexico," Working Papers 097, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    3. Ogilvie, S. & Edwards, J. & Küpker, M., 2016. "Economically Relevant Human Capital or Multi-Purpose Consumption Good? Book Ownership in Pre-Modern Württemberg," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1655, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Gerhard Wegner, 2015. "Capitalist transformation without political participation: German capitalism in the first half of the nineteenth century," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 61-86, March.
    5. Veenstra, Joost, 2015. "Output growth in German manufacturing, 1907–1936. A reinterpretation of time-series evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 38-49.
    6. Michael Kopsidis & Ulrich Pfister, 2013. "Agricultural development during early industrialization in a low-wage economy: Saxony, c. 1790-1830," Working Papers 0039, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    7. Jaime Reis, 2016. "The Gross Agricultural Output of Portugal: A Quantitative, Unified Perspective, 1500-1850," Working Papers 0098, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    8. Martin Uebele & Daniel Gallardo-Albarrán, 2015. "Paving the way to modernity: Prussian roads and grain market integration in Westphalia, 1821-1855," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(1), pages 69-92, March.
    9. Stijn Ronsse & Samuel Standaert, 2017. "Combining growth and level data: an estimation of the population of Belgian cities between 1880 and 1970," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 17/927, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    10. Kopsidis, Michael & Bromley, Daniel W., 2014. "The French Revolution and German industrialization: The new institutional economics rewrites history," IAMO Discussion Papers 149, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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