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Life-cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260-1850

Horrell, Sara, Humphries, Jane and Weisdorf, Jacob (2020) Life-cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260-1850. Economic History Working Papers (310). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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We provide a framework for considering the living standards among intact and disrupted working-class families of various sizes in historical England. We estimate family incomes without resort to the usual male day wages and ahistorical assumptions about men’s labour inputs, instead using approximations of their annual earnings. We incorporate women and children’s wages and labour inputs and use a family life-cycle approach which accommodates consumption smoothing through saving. The analysis extends to families with often overlooked but historically common structures: widows with their children, deserted wives, and families which include husbands/fathers but ones unable or unwilling to work. Our framework suggests living standards varied considerably over time and by family structure and dependency ratio. Small and intact families enjoyed high and rising living standards after 1700. Large, broken, and disrupted families depended on child labour and poor relief up until 1830.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J22 - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
N - Economic History > N1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations > N13 - Europe: Pre-1913
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O10 - General
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2020 07:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:19

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