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Real wages, labour conditions and the standard of living in Denmark: 1500-1900

Cristina Radu

No 2/2019, Discussion Papers on Economics from University of Southern Denmark, Department of Economics

Abstract: It is well established that Denmark is one of the richest economies in the world nowadays with high living standards and wages. But what about earlier times? This paper makes three contributions: firstly, it creates and describes a new and rich data set on historical wage developments in Denmark, based on data gathered by the Danish Price History Project for the period 1660‐1800; secondly, it tests the traditional view of Denmark being very poor during that period by offering insight into eighteenth century Danish living standards; and thirdly, it tests whether the country followed the traditional story of the Little Divergence by constructing a long run real wage series for 1500‐1900. Comparing real wages across Europe, I find incomes in the countryside actually converged in the sixteenth century. In this context, Denmark moved from being poor, to an average income level, becoming rich only in the nineteenth century. An analysis of the eighteenth century shows that the value of the skill premium was higher than that of leading countries in Europe, but the gender wage gap tended to close towards the end. Married women in skilled occupations earned more than unmarried ones, but no difference was seen for unskilled occupations.

Keywords: Little Divergence; Denmark; consumer price index; real wages; skill premium; gender gap; casual and full time workers; married/unmarried women; urban/rural workers; living standards (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J30 J40 J80 N33 N93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 40 pages
Date: 2019-02-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-lma
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (5)

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