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Jane Humphries () and Jacob Weisdorf
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Jane Humphries: Professor of Economic History, All Souls College, Economics and Business, University of Oxford

No 121, Working Papers from European Historical Economics Society (EHES)

Abstract: Historical estimates of workers’ earnings suffer from the fundamental problem that annual incomes are inferred from day wages without knowing the length of the working year. This uncertainty raises doubts about core growth theories that rely on existing income estimates to explain the origins of the wealth of nations. We circumvent the problem by building an income series of workers employed on annual rather than casual contracts. Our data suggests that existing annual income estimates based on day wages are badly off target, because they overestimate the medieval working year but underestimate the working year during the industrial revolution. Our revised annual income estimates indicate that modern economic growth began almost two centuries earlier than commonly thought and was driven by an ‘Industrious Revolution’.

Keywords: England; Industrial Revolution; Industrious Revolution; Labour Supply; Living standards; Malthusian Model; Modern Economic Growth; Real Wages (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 64 pages
Date: 2017-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-gro, nep-his and nep-lma
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Related works:
Journal Article: Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260–1850 (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260-1850 (2017) Downloads
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