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

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

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.

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century with number 62076.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc12:62076
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.socialpolitik.org/
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  1. Ulrich Pfister, 2010. "Consumer prices and wages in Germany, 1500 - 1850," CQE Working Papers 1510, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster.
  2. Sarferaz, Samad & Uebele, Martin, 2009. "Tracking down the business cycle: A dynamic factor model for Germany 1820-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 368-387, July.
  3. Nikolaus Wolf, 2012. "Crises and Policy Responses within the Political Trilemma: Europe, 1929-1936 and 2008-2011," Working Papers 0016, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  4. O Rourke, Kevin H, 2006. "The worldwide economic impact of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793 1815," Journal of Global History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 123-149, March.
  5. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working-Class in England, 1209-2004," Working Papers 539, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
  7. Broadberry, Stephen N & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2005. "The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 4947, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Saikkonen, Pentti & L tkepohl, Helmut, 2002. "Testing For A Unit Root In A Time Series With A Level Shift At Unknown Time," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(02), pages 313-348, April.
  9. 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.
  10. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2010. "The population history of Germany: research strategy and preliminary results," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  11. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
  12. Broadberry, Stephen & Burhop, Carsten, 2010. "Real Wages and Labor Productivity in Britain and Germany, 1871–1938: A Unified Approach to the International Comparison of Living Standards," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(02), pages 400-427, June.
  13. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2009. "From Malthus to Solow: How did the Malthusian economy really evolve?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 68-93, March.
  14. Geraldine David & Kim Oosterlinck, 2012. "War, Inflation, Monetary Reform and the Art Market," Working Papers 0012, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  15. Alan Fernihough, 2013. "Malthusian Dynamics in a Diverging Europe: Northern Italy, 1650–1881," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 311-332, February.
  16. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  17. Burhop, Carsten & Wolff, Guntram B., 2005. "A Compromise Estimate of German Net National Product, 1851 1913, and its Implications for Growth and Business Cycles," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(03), pages 613-657, September.
  18. Kindleberger, Charles P., 1991. "The Economic Crisis of 1619 to 1623," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 149-175, March.
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