Real wages and the family: adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England

Schneider, Eric B (2013) Real wages and the family: adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England. Explorations in Economic History, 50 (1). pp. 99-115. ISSN 0014-4983

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This paper uses demographic data drawn from Wrigley et al.'s (1997) family reconstitutions of 26 English parishes to adjust Allen's (2001) real wages to the changing demography of early modern England. Using parity progression ratios (a fertility measure) and age specific mortality for children and parents, model families are predicted in two reference periods 1650–1700 and 1750–1800. These models yield two levels of interesting results. At the individual family level, we can measure how different families' real wages changed over the family life cycle as additional children were born. At the aggregate level, we can predict thousands of families using Monte Carlo simulation, creating a realistic distribution of median family real wages in the economy. There are two main findings. First, pregnancy and lactation do not create cyclical effects in the family's income. Instead, most families' welfare ratios decline steadily across the family life cycle until children begin to leave the household, increasing the welfare ratios. Second, Allen's real wages understate or match the median of the predicted demography-adjusted distributions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Real wages; Family size; Inequality; Income distribution; Demographic history; Great Divergence
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA028 General
H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
Depositing User: Eric Schneider
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2013 14:40
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2013 14:44
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