Men at work. Wages and industriousness in southern Sweden 1500–1850

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History

Keywords

  • Wages, casual labour, annualy hired, Early Modern, Industrious revolution
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Dec 20
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes