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Job tenure and unskilled workers before the Industrial Revolution: St Paul’s Cathedral 1672-1748

Paker, Meredith, Stephenson, Judy ORCID: 0000-0003-4972-4096 and Wallis, Patrick ORCID: 0000-0003-1434-515X (2023) Job tenure and unskilled workers before the Industrial Revolution: St Paul’s Cathedral 1672-1748. Journal of Economic History, 83 (4). 1101 - 1137. ISSN 0022-0507

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0022050723000347

Abstract

How were unskilled workers selected and hired in preindustrial labor markets? We exploit records from the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral, London (1672–1748), to analyze the hiring and employment histories of over 1,000 general building laborers, the benchmark category of “unskilled” workers in long-run wage series. Despite volatile demand, St Paul’s created a stable workforce by rewarding the tenure of long-standing workers. More senior workers received more days of work each month, preference when jobs were scarce, and the opportunity to earn additional income. We find the cathedral’s strategy consistent with reducing hiring frictions and turnover costs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of...
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
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 > J23 - Employment Determination; Job Creation; Demand for Labor; Self-Employment
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N33 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: Europe: Pre-1913
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J22 - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J21 - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
N - Economic History > N6 - Manufacturing and Construction > N63 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2022 15:36
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 19:00
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/117264

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