How Skilled Were Agricultural Labourers in the Early Nineteenth Century?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using the wage accounts of two different farms in the 1830s and 1840s, matched with census records to determine the age of the workers, this article estimates age-wage profiles for male and female agricultural labourers. Females earned less than males, and had less wage growth over their life cycles. Male wage profiles peaked at age 30–5, earlier than the wage profiles of workers today. Before the age of 30 wage growth was more rapid than increases in strength, but less rapid than wage growth among factory workers. If wage increases after the age of 20 indicate skill acquisition, then male agricultural labourers acquired a significant amount of skill, but less skill than contemporaneous factory workers.


  • Joyce Burnette
External organisations
  • Wabash College
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • agricultural laborers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-716
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic History Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes