The impact of the great emigration on the Swedish economy

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In the half-century before 1914 wages in Sweden advanced from below the West European average to being at a level with those in Britain. This remarkable record has seldom been addressed, but the very rapid concurrent Swedish economic growth is well known. The present article argues that the increase in wages was not only due to industrialisation, but that another major factor was the trans-Atlantic emigration, which drained the supply of labour. Central to the argument is that this effect of emigration interacted with. a structural change within the Swedish economy. The traditional export industries faced stiffening competition, and could not afford the higher wages. But the newly emerging branches of industry relied on modern technology, could pay their workers more, and grew. The article explores factors of demand and supply in the Swedish labour market, and on the basis ofd~ta at the county level the emigration elasticity of growth in daywages is estimated. A tentative counterfactual case confirms that emigration was a major factor in the elevation of wages in Sweden.
Translated title of the contributionEmigrationens påverkan på Sveriges ekonomi
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-189
Number of pages31
JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997 May 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


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