Little Divergence revisited: Polish living standards in a European perspective, 1500-1800

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


I contribute to the debate on the timing of the Little Divergence within pre-industrial Europe. I add Polish real wages to the comparative framework by comparing them with the English and Italian series. I compile existing data for Poznań, Lublin, and the Polish agricultural sector. I add this information to the internationally available evidence for Cracow, Gdańsk, Warsaw, and Lviv. I demonstrate that the more processed grains, i.e., beer and bread, feature in a basket used to deflate wages, the greater the observed superiority of London over the Polish cities. I also show that Poland was characterised by the widest income gap between the urban and rural sectors. I account for income differences between sectors by weighting the income series by occupational structures. The evidence suggests that England was richer than Poland by 1500. The countries converged around 1600. Subsequently, Poland began to lag behind from the seventeenth century onwards.


External organisations
  • Utrecht University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-367
JournalEuropean Review of Economic History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes