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

Gary, Kathryn LU and Olsson, Mats LU (2019) In Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues
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... (More)
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. (Less)
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author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Working paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
wages, casual labour, annually hired, Early Modern, Sweden, N33
in
Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues
issue
2019:194
pages
35 pages
external identifiers
  • scopus:85061719563
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
eb88b9c8-fbbb-411d-afcc-aea2024389e4
date added to LUP
2019-02-14 14:00:25
date last changed
2020-01-13 01:29:19
@misc{eb88b9c8-fbbb-411d-afcc-aea2024389e4,
  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.},
  author       = {Gary, Kathryn and Olsson, Mats},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {2019:194},
  series       = {Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues},
  title        = {Men at work : Real wages from annual and casual labour in southern Sweden 1500–1850},
  url          = {https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/57982553/LUPEH_194.pdf},
  year         = {2019},
}