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Plagues, Wages, and Economic Change in the Islamic Middle East, 700–1500

Sevket Pamuk () and Maya Shatzmiller

The Journal of Economic History, 2014, vol. 74, issue 1, 196-229

Abstract: This study establishes long-term trends in the purchasing power of the wages of unskilled workers and develops estimates for GDP per capita for medieval Egypt and Iraq. Wages were heavily influenced by two long-lasting demographic shocks, the Justinian Plague and the Black Death and the slow population recovery that followed. As a result, they remained above the subsistence minimum for most of the medieval era. We also argue that the environment of high wages that emerged after the Justinian Plague contributed to the Golden Age of Islam by creating demand for higher income goods.

Date: 2014
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