• John HatcherEmail author
  • Judy Z. Stephenson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


The welfare and quality of life of people in the past are among the most important areas of historical enquiry, and the standard of living of populations is one of the leading determinants of the economic performance of nations. Yet, the chapters in this volume argue that the long-run series of wages and real incomes that have for decades habitually provided the means by which these phenomena are measured, as well as the foundations of much of the writing of economic and social history across the centuries and the countries of the world, are extremely unreliable. One by one the authors systematically expose the multiple weaknesses, inaccuracies and misapprehensions of the standard wage and income data and expose the gulf that exists between the ever-increasing ability to process huge quantities of data, facilitated by spectacular advances in statistical techniques and computer technology, and the poor quality of most of the raw material that is routinely processed.


  1. Allen, R.C. 2002. The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War. Explorations in Economic History 38: 411–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, R.C., J.P. Bassino, D. Ma, C. Moll-Murata, and J.-L. van Zanden. 2011. Wages, Prices and Living Standards in China, 1738–1925, in Comparison with Europe, Japan and India. Economic History Review 64: 8–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blonde, B., and J. Hanus. 2010. Beyond Building Craftsmen’. Economic Growth and Living Standards in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries: The Case of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (1500–1560). Journal of European Economic History 14: 179–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boulton, J. 1996. Wage Labour in Seventeenth-Century London. Economic History Review 49: 268–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Broadberry, S., and B. Gupta. 2006. The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500–1800. Economic History Review 59: 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnette, J. 2011. Gender, Work and Wages in Industrial Revolution Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Press.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, B.M.S. 1991. Before the Black Death: Studies in the ‘Crisis’ of the Early Fourteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  8. Clark, G. 2007. A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Crafts, N. 1997. Some Dimensions of The ‘Quality of Life’ During the British Industrial Revolution. Economic History Review 50: 617–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Erickson, A. 2008. Married Women’s Occupations in Eighteenth-Century London. Continuity and Change 23: 267–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Floud, R., R.W. Fogel, B. Harris, and S.C. Hong. 2011. The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hassell Smith, A. 1989. Labourers in Late Sixteenth-Century England: A Case Study from North Norfolk, 2 Parts. Continuity and Change 4: 11–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Humphries, J., and J. Weisdorf. 2015. The Wages of Women in England, 1260–1850. Journal of Economic History 75, 2: 405–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ———. 2017. Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England. Centre for Economic Policy and Research, Discussion Paper Series, DP111999Google Scholar
  15. Scholliers, P., and L. Schwarz, eds. 2003. Experiencing Wages: Social and Cultural Aspects of Wage Forms in Europe Since 1500. New York/Oxford/Munich: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  16. Taylor, A.J., ed. 1975. The Standard of Living in Britain During the Industrial Revolution. London: Methuen & Co.Google Scholar
  17. van Zanden, J.-L. 2009. The Skill Premium and The ‘Great Divergence’. Journal of European Economic History 13: 121–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Woodward, D. 1981. Wage Rates and Living Standards in Pre-Industrial England. Past and Present 91: 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 1995. Men at Work: Labourers and Building Craftsmen in the Towns of Northern England, 1450–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Yamamoto, C. 2004. Two Labour Markets in Nineteenth-Century English Agriculture: The Trentham Home Farm, Staffordshire. Rural History 15: 89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Wadham College, University of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations