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Prices, Wages, and Welfare in Early Colonial South Australia, 1836-1850

Edwyna Harris and Sumner La Croix ()

No 07-19, Monash Economics Working Papers from Monash University, Department of Economics

Abstract: From first settlement of South Australia in November 1836, the colony underwent a series of crises due to delays in surveying and distributing lands, producing crops, and employing new migrants. Histories of this period emphasize that a combination of high food prices and high wages burdened the government and new farms. To check and refine standard explanations for early colonization crises, we employ a number of sources, including South Australian newspapers and colonial government blue books, to develop monthly series for prices, wages, and the cost of “respectable” and “bare bones” consumption baskets over the 1838-1850 period. We use Corden’s model of a booming economy with traded and non-traded goods to understand how various shocks, including the 1840 stop in immigration and the 1844/1845 copper discoveries, could have affected the SA economy. We find that the model’s implications are consistent with changes in our newly developed SA data series.

Keywords: Adelaide; colonization; welfare ratio; standard of living; South Australia; relief; Wakefield; migrants (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D44 N47 N57 N97 R30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 57 pages
Date: 2019-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
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