July 28th 2022

PA.134 | Wages formation and determination in the pre-industrial period and beyond

Parallel Sessions
09:00 - 12:30 - Recherche Nord - Room 0.010
The analysis of wages and wage series' has been at the basis of economic and social history debates for over a century; trends in real wages as indicators of economic development have led to debates about divergence between high and low-wage economies and causes of the process of industrialization (Allen 2001; 2009; 2015; Malanima 2013). However, recent publications (Hatcher and Stephenson 2018; Drelichman and González Agudo 2020) call for analysis to move beyond capturing average daily money wages paid to skilled and unskilled men and revives interest in substantivist claims that recorded money wages are more likely only a part of worker's remuneration. It is also well understood that existing wage studies do not examine rural workers, service workers, part time workers, women's' or children's earnings adequately, and that there is poor understanding of regional variation and patterns. The proposed session aims to build on empirical work presented and discussed in sessions at WEHC Boston 2018 and in a number of research groups since, offering opportunity for further investigations, both on specific case studies – i.e., on specific geographical and chronological contexts – and in comparative ways. Specifically, the proposed session will gather papers dealing with the following topics: - The role of in-kind and monetary payments, bonuses and supplements in the formation of remunerations; - The relationship between work contracts (annual, piece work, time work or task work) and the determination of wages; - Skill and wage determination: The variety of wages in pre-industrial societies in relation with the characteristics of the workers; - Wages in a diachronic and comparative perspective: how wages' structure and composition changes across times and spaces (both in terms of geographical areas and urban-rural environments). References Allen, R. C. (2001), "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the Fist World War", Explorations in Economic History, 38, pp. 411-447 Allen, R. C. (2009), The British Industrial Revolution in a Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Allen, R. C. (2015), "The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement", Economic History Review, 68, pp. 1-22 Drelichman, M. and González Agudo, D. (2020), "The Gender Wage Gap in Early Modern Toledo, 1550-1650", The Journal of Economic History, 80/2, pp. 351-385 Hatcher, J. and Stephenson, J. Z. (eds.) (2018), Seven Centuries of Unreal Wages. The Unreliable Data, Sources and Methods that have been used for Measuring Standards of Living in the Past. London: Palgrave Macmillan Malanima, P. (2013), "When did England overtake Italy? Medieval and early modern divergence in prices and wages", European Review of Economic History, 17, pp. 45-70
J - Labor and Demographic Economics
Ongaro Giulio - University of Milano-Bicocca
Luca Mocarelli - University of Milano-Bicocca
Judy Stephenson - UCL
An Evaluation of the Employees in the Ottoman Sultanic Foundations: the Example of the Süleymaniye Complex
Ayşenur Karademir - Gümüşhane University
This study focuses on the attendance book of the employees of the pious foundation, the waqf, of Suleyman the Magnificent, who held the Ottoman throne between 1522 and 1566. Ottoman waqfs were the main institutions for meeting public needs especially during the classical era. From education to health, every public service was provided by them. Although there were no limits to building a waqf, the ones which involved large budgets were founded by sultans and high-ranking state officials and were referred to as sultanic and vizirate waqfs. They offered uniliteral treatment under the law and consisted of two components; the first was the hayrat, a building intended to serve the public, and the second was akarat, permenant income sources for the buildings. The waqfs acted as institutions; they managed the buildings and their services, collected incomes from the sources, and hired people in all kinds of professions for carrying out these duties. This study examines the employees in the sultanic waqfs their relation to the state (sultan), their job titles and their wages. In this study, the principal archive source is the attendance book of Suleyman’s Istanbul complex, which contained the names of the employees, their titles and their daily payments, dated 1703. The complex was massive one with a mosque, a medical school, a hospital, a soup kitchen, pre-school facilities and five universities.
Work and care of women. The case of “Manifatture” The San Michele a Ripa
Donatella Strangio - Sapienza - University of Rome
Annual wages in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and the beginning of the Italian Little divergence
Francesco Fiore Melacrinis - Sapienza - University of Rome
“Of money, spelt, and one acre of field”: Rural Teachers’ Wages in Early-Modern Switzerland, 1771-1799
Gabriela Wüthrich - University of Zurich [Zurich]
Plagues, Wars and Wages in Late Medieval Normandy
Cédric Chambru - University of Zurich [Zurich]
Paul Maneuvrier-Hervieu - University of Milan
Incomparable Wages? Men’s and Women’s Annual Wages in the Early Modern Period
Kathryn E. Gary - Department of Economic History, Lund University
Faustine Perrin - Department of Economic History, Lund University
The main purpose. Bargaining, wages and gender in the 18th century Piedmontese silk manufacture
Mario Grassi - Scuola Superiore di Studi Storici University of San Marino
Underemployment and the compensating wage premium: Two unexpected forces of the Industrial Revolution
Weisdorf Jacob - Sapienza - University of Rome
Scholars commonly believe that underemployment was a harsh reality of pre-industrial life. But was it also a driving force of the Industrial Revolution? Nobel-Prize winner Arthur Lewis in the 1950s argued that surplus farm workers fuelled industry as a source of cheap labour. His hypothesis was never tested among historical populations due to missing data and was ultimately rejected with surplus labour virtually absent in today’s developing countries. My paper presents evidence for the first time that surplus labour was massive in pre-industrial England. The data indicate that casual workers were idle for up to 50 per cent of the year during medieval times, declining to ten per cent during the Industrial Revolution. I argue that pre-industrial surplus labour was a nuisance to employers, as they had to cover surplus workers during idle periods in order to keep them around during busy seasons. My numbers suggest that employers’ cost of retaining idle workers, known as the compensating wage premium, was a considerable fraction of pre-industrial workers’ daily wage rates. I argue that the compensating wage premium declined during the early-modern period, as employers gradually found new ways to reduce seasonality in production. The progressive reduction in seasonal unemployment meant labour surplus eventually turned into labour shortage. This shortage not only explains why England was a high-wage economy at the time of the Industrial Revolution, but also why English producers sought to mechanise production.
The role of the shadow economy in real wage formation amongst workers of the Spanish textile industry, 1955-1973
Carles Manera Erbina - Universitat de les Illes Balears
Jose Antonio Garcia Barrero - Universitat de Barcelona