Leonardo Ridolfi

Understanding pre-industrial wages and incomes: A reassessment of the evidence and new interpretations based on France and Italy

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Wages lie at the heart of some of the great debates in economic history such as the Little and Great divergence in living standards as well as the origin of modern economic growth. Despite that, several aspects about wage data have received little attention in the literature as most scholars have focused on the remuneration paid to workers while neglecting other important aspects. For instance, how are wage sources structured? Which factors can account for wage data availability? How were workers hired? What was the relationship between the employer and the employee and how did this affect wages? This paper sought to address these issues by discussing the structure of wage sources as well as the implications for the construction of wage series and the estimation of total incomes


  • Wages
  • pre-industrial labour markets
  • Italy
  • France


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