This article uses new wage series for men, women and children in combination with an established cost of living index and standard assumptions about family size to construct a measure of family welfare in England, 1280–1850. It asks whether this family could achieve a standard of living historically defined as ‘respectable’. It extracts information from primary and secondary sources to make adjustments for the participation rates of women and children, the varying number of days worked over time, the changing involvement of married women in paid work, and the evolving occupational structure. The resulting series is the first to depict the living standard of a representative working family over the very long run. Prior to the Black Death, this family existed just above subsistence; afterwards shortage of labour brought substantial albeit not unassailable gains. Tudor-era turmoil and constraints on women’s work pushed the family below the ‘respectable’ standard. From the mid 1600s however, the gradual transformation of the economy coincided with improved welfare. Over these centuries, it was rare for men’s work alone to sustain the family at a respectable level; women and children’s earnings were necessary. This article calls for a re-evaluation of the chronology, causes and consequences of long-run growth

Family standards of living over the long run, England 1280-1850 / Weisdorf, Jacob Louis; Humphries, Jane; Horrell, Sara. - In: PAST & PRESENT. - ISSN 1477-464X. - (2021), pp. 87-134. [10.1093/pastj/gtaa005]

Family standards of living over the long run, England 1280-1850

Jacob Weisdorf
;
2021

Abstract

This article uses new wage series for men, women and children in combination with an established cost of living index and standard assumptions about family size to construct a measure of family welfare in England, 1280–1850. It asks whether this family could achieve a standard of living historically defined as ‘respectable’. It extracts information from primary and secondary sources to make adjustments for the participation rates of women and children, the varying number of days worked over time, the changing involvement of married women in paid work, and the evolving occupational structure. The resulting series is the first to depict the living standard of a representative working family over the very long run. Prior to the Black Death, this family existed just above subsistence; afterwards shortage of labour brought substantial albeit not unassailable gains. Tudor-era turmoil and constraints on women’s work pushed the family below the ‘respectable’ standard. From the mid 1600s however, the gradual transformation of the economy coincided with improved welfare. Over these centuries, it was rare for men’s work alone to sustain the family at a respectable level; women and children’s earnings were necessary. This article calls for a re-evaluation of the chronology, causes and consequences of long-run growth
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11573/1543081
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