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Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800-1910 : Workers' share of growing incomes

Bengtsson, Erik LU (2017) In Investigaciones de Historia Economica
Abstract

One of the major ways in which economic inequality can increase is when the development of wages of ordinary workers trail productivity and GDP growth, meaning that the increasing riches fall in the hand of other social groups (top employees, owners of land and capital). This paper investigates the relationship between wages and GDP in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1800 to 1910, using wage series for workers in agriculture as well as crafts and industry. It shows wages trailing GDP from the 1840s to the mid-1870s, with a particularly pronounced such trend in Norway. On the other hand, wages generally increase at the same pace as GDP in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The early 1870s is a break point also for food real wages which start... (More)

One of the major ways in which economic inequality can increase is when the development of wages of ordinary workers trail productivity and GDP growth, meaning that the increasing riches fall in the hand of other social groups (top employees, owners of land and capital). This paper investigates the relationship between wages and GDP in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1800 to 1910, using wage series for workers in agriculture as well as crafts and industry. It shows wages trailing GDP from the 1840s to the mid-1870s, with a particularly pronounced such trend in Norway. On the other hand, wages generally increase at the same pace as GDP in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The early 1870s is a break point also for food real wages which start increasing at that point. Four explanations for the varying fortunes of workers are tested: price developments, population growth, emigration, and institutional changes. Variations in labour supply, stemming from population growth and emigration, are shown to be the most important determinant.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Economic history, Living standards, Scandinavia, Wages
in
Investigaciones de Historia Economica
publisher
Spanish Association of Economic History
external identifiers
  • scopus:85022008029
ISSN
1698-6989
DOI
10.1016/j.ihe.2017.05.002
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8bd0a1d7-8110-441c-840f-1254ec68ed18
date added to LUP
2017-07-24 13:24:13
date last changed
2017-07-24 13:24:13
@article{8bd0a1d7-8110-441c-840f-1254ec68ed18,
  abstract     = {<p>One of the major ways in which economic inequality can increase is when the development of wages of ordinary workers trail productivity and GDP growth, meaning that the increasing riches fall in the hand of other social groups (top employees, owners of land and capital). This paper investigates the relationship between wages and GDP in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1800 to 1910, using wage series for workers in agriculture as well as crafts and industry. It shows wages trailing GDP from the 1840s to the mid-1870s, with a particularly pronounced such trend in Norway. On the other hand, wages generally increase at the same pace as GDP in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The early 1870s is a break point also for food real wages which start increasing at that point. Four explanations for the varying fortunes of workers are tested: price developments, population growth, emigration, and institutional changes. Variations in labour supply, stemming from population growth and emigration, are shown to be the most important determinant.</p>},
  author       = {Bengtsson, Erik},
  issn         = {1698-6989},
  keyword      = {Economic history,Living standards,Scandinavia,Wages},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  publisher    = {Spanish Association of Economic History},
  series       = {Investigaciones de Historia Economica},
  title        = {Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800-1910 : Workers' share of growing incomes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ihe.2017.05.002},
  year         = {2017},
}