Research in Economic History: Volume 31

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(11 chapters)

This paper constructs real wage series for nineteenth-century Algeria and Tunisia, and compares them with existing Egyptian and Syrian series. Archival sources are used for price and nominal wage data. Following Allen (2001), nominal wages are deflated with a consumer price index. The series are tested for robustness. Real wages were initially dispersed, but converged to similar levels by the end of the period. There is no evidence of a broad-based improvement in living standards over the period, with real wage series declining in Algeria, and stagnating in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. The findings paint a less optimistic picture of living standards compared to other measures like GDP per capita and compared to some of the historical literature. Data for the Maghreb are scarce, and more work will need to be done on finding more wage and price observations.


During the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal created a wide range of spending and loan programs. Brief descriptions are provided for the programs created by the New Deal and loan and spending programs that were in place before the New Deal. I worked with others to create a panel data set with estimates of the spending and lending by the programs each year from 1930 through 1940. The data aggregated to broad categories are reported here and the methods and sources used to construct the estimates of the spending and lending for the categories are discussed.


In The Changing Body (Cambridge University Press and NBER, 2011), we presented a series of estimates showing the number of calories available for human consumption in England and Wales at various points in time between 1700 and 1909/1913. We now seek to correct an error in our original figures and to compare the corrected figures with those published by a range of other authors. We also include new estimates showing the calorific value of meat and grains imported from Ireland. Disagreements with other authors reflect differences over a number of issues, including the amount of land under cultivation, the extraction and wastage rates for cereals and pulses and the number of animals supplying meat and dairy products. We consider recent attempts to achieve a compromise between these estimates and challenge claims that there was a dramatic reduction in either food availability or the average height of birth cohorts in the late-eighteenth century.


This paper uses newly compiled data from two surveys of female home workers undertaken by the Women’s Industrial Council in London in 1897 and 1907 to investigate various issues related to their work and wages. The reports detail the occupations, average weekly earnings and hours, marital status, and household size, composition, and total income of approximately 850 female home workers, offering a unique, and as yet unused, opportunity to explore the labor market characteristics of the lowest-paid workers in the early twentieth century. Analysis of the data reveals that the female home workers who were surveyed were drawn overwhelmingly from poor households. Home workers were older than female factory workers, most were married or widowed, and the majority of married workers reported that their husbands were out of work, sick, disabled, or in casual or irregular work. Weekly wages and hours of work varied considerably by industry, but averaged about 7–9s. and 40–45 hours per week, with many workers reporting the desire for more work. The relationship between hours of work (daily and weekly) and hourly wages was negative, and the wives and daughters of men who were out of the labor force due to unemployment or illness tended to work longer hours at lower wages, as did women who lived in households where some health issue was present. These findings lend support to contemporary perceptions that women driven into the labor force by immediate household need were forced to take the lowest-paid work, whether because they lacked skill and experience or bargaining power in the labor market.


Relying on a new dataset, this paper examines the genesis of current account fluctuations and the investment cycle in Italy. We perform a Granger causality test that shows that the persistent current account deficits in the years from unification to World War I were generated by variations in capital inflows, as hypothesized by Fenoaltea, and not by the dynamics of GDP, as in the Bonelli–Cafagna model. Finally, we show that these capital inflows prompted an industrial investment cycle in equipment and machinery but not – as claimed by Fenoaltea (1988) – a general investment cycle which included also construction and more volatile components of investment. These patterns held under both fixed and floating exchange rate regimes.

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Research in Economic History
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