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A Workers’ Revolution in Sweden? Exploring Economic Growth and Distributional Change with Detailed Data on Construction Workers’ Wages, 1831–1900

Ericsson, Johan and Molinder, Jakob LU (2018) In Lund Papers in Economic History. Education and the Labour Market
Abstract
The impact of the transition to modern economic growth on the distribution of income is widely debated. The experience of early industrializers like Britain and the US has informed much of the debate, lending support to the idea embedded in the models of Kuznets and Lewis that real wages of laborers tend to lag behind the growth of GDP per capita in the early stages of economic development. We examine the impact growth on workers in Sweden using a new dataset on daily wages for helpers, carpenters, masons, and teamsters over the 1831–1900 period. The data has a uniquely detailed geographical coverage, including a broad set of places in the countryside as well as towns. Our new series shows that real wage growth began in the mid-1850s, that... (More)
The impact of the transition to modern economic growth on the distribution of income is widely debated. The experience of early industrializers like Britain and the US has informed much of the debate, lending support to the idea embedded in the models of Kuznets and Lewis that real wages of laborers tend to lag behind the growth of GDP per capita in the early stages of economic development. We examine the impact growth on workers in Sweden using a new dataset on daily wages for helpers, carpenters, masons, and teamsters over the 1831–1900 period. The data has a uniquely detailed geographical coverage, including a broad set of places in the countryside as well as towns. Our new series shows that real wage growth began in the mid-1850s, that the average yearly increase was substantial and superseding GDP per capita growth after 1880, that it was larger for unskilled helpers than higher-skilled groups, and was present in the countryside and urban areas alike. A comparison with Northern Europe shows that unskilled workers in Sweden benefited to a much greater extent from economic growth, highlighting the importance of paying careful attention to distributional issues when comparing living standards across countries. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Working paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
wages, inequality, distribution, economic development, growth, living standards, Kuznets-curve, Lewis, N00, N13, N33, O14, J31
in
Lund Papers in Economic History. Education and the Labour Market
issue
2018:181
pages
36 pages
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
12034501-dec1-48af-bc24-2e032ba277d3
date added to LUP
2018-10-11 16:22:33
date last changed
2019-01-14 07:40:29
@misc{12034501-dec1-48af-bc24-2e032ba277d3,
  abstract     = {The impact of the transition to modern economic growth on the distribution of income is widely debated. The experience of early industrializers like Britain and the US has informed much of the debate, lending support to the idea embedded in the models of Kuznets and Lewis that real wages of laborers tend to lag behind the growth of GDP per capita in the early stages of economic development. We examine the impact growth on workers in Sweden using a new dataset on daily wages for helpers, carpenters, masons, and teamsters over the 1831–1900 period. The data has a uniquely detailed geographical coverage, including a broad set of places in the countryside as well as towns. Our new series shows that real wage growth began in the mid-1850s, that the average yearly increase was substantial and superseding GDP per capita growth after 1880, that it was larger for unskilled helpers than higher-skilled groups, and was present in the countryside and urban areas alike. A comparison with Northern Europe shows that unskilled workers in Sweden benefited to a much greater extent from economic growth, highlighting the importance of paying careful attention to distributional issues when comparing living standards across countries.},
  author       = {Ericsson, Johan and Molinder, Jakob},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {2018:181},
  series       = {Lund Papers in Economic History. Education and the Labour Market},
  title        = {A Workers’ Revolution in Sweden? Exploring Economic Growth and Distributional Change with Detailed Data on Construction Workers’ Wages, 1831–1900},
  url          = {https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/files/52874258/LUP_181.pdf},
  year         = {2018},
}