The Long March of History: Farm Wages, Population, and Economic Growth, England 1209-1869
39 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2007
The article forms three series for English farm workers from 1209-1869: nominal day wages, the implied marginal product of a day of farm labour, and the purchasing power of a days wage in terms of farm workers consumption. These series suggest that labour productivity in English agriculture was already high in the middle ages. Furthermore, they fit well with one method of estimating medieval population that suggests a peak English population c.1300 of nearly 6 million. Lastly, they imply that both agricultural technology and the general efficiency of the economy were static from 1250 till 1600. Economic changes were in these years entirely a product of demographic shifts. From 1600 to 1800, technological advance in agriculture provided an alternative source of dynamism in the English economy.
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