1381 and the Malthus Delusion
34 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2010 Last revised: 23 Dec 2010
Date Written: Dec 16, 2010
What were income trends before the Industrial Revolution? Clark (2007b) argued both theoretically and empirically that pre-industrial income fluctuated, but was not trending upwards, a position Gunner Persson labeled “the Malthus Delusion.” Clark (2010), in particular, estimated that on average English income 1200-1800 was as high as in 1800. In contrast Broadberry et al. (2010) estimate income tripled between 1270 and 1800. One key test of early income estimates is the share employed in farming. Here I show from the Poll Tax returns that in 1381 only 56-59 percent of the English population was engaged in farming, implying income equivalent to that of 1800.
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