The rise of the middle class: the income gap between salaried employees and workers in Sweden, ca. 1830–1940

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We present the first comprehensive, long run salary information on Swedish middle-class employees before the twentieth century. Our data include, for instance, school teachers, professors, clerks, policemen and janitors in Stockholm and Sweden, ca. 1830–1940. We use the new data to compare the annual earnings of these middle-class employees with the annual earnings of farm workers, unskilled construction workers and manufacturing workers. The results show that the income gap between the middle class and the working class widen drastically from the mid-nineteenth century to a historically high level during the 1880s and 1890s. The differentials then decreased during the first four decades of the twentieth century. The bulging earnings advantage of middle-class employees vis-à-vis unskilled workers chimes with Kocka’s depiction of the latter half of the nineteenth century as the era of the bourgeoisie.


External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • income inequality, middle class, salaries, Sweden, Wages
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-111
Number of pages21
JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
Issue number2
Early online date2019 Aug 19
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch