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Men at work: Real wages from annual and casual labour in southern Sweden 1500–1850

Kathryn E. Gary () and Mats Olsson ()
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Kathryn E. Gary: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

No 194, Lund Papers in Economic History from Lund University, Department of Economic History

Abstract: In this paper, we use a brand new dataset to estimate and compare wages for casually and annually hired workers in early modern southern Sweden. We ask whether men in either situation could have supported families on the basis of their earnings. Findings indicate that casual earners would have been able to out-earn annual employees for most of the period 1500–1850, but by the eighteenth century when food prices had risen their relative comfort likely reversed. Similarly, while it was possible for long periods of time for men to earn a respectability basket on the basis of approximately 150 days work this was no longer true by the end of the eighteenth century. By that time, both groups would have increasingly struggled and other family members needed to contribute. Not only is this account inconsistent with the standard story of a nineteenth century male breadwinner family but it suggests that industriousness might not have been prompted by a desire to consume new commodities but by the need to maintain basic standards.

Keywords: wages; casual labour; annually hired; Early Modern; Sweden (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 32 pages
Date: 2019-02-28
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-lma
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0194

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