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Wages and labour relations in the Middle Ages: it's not (all) about the money

Claridge, Jordan ORCID: 0000-0002-8064-7394, Delabastita, Vincent and Gibbs, Spike (2023) Wages and labour relations in the Middle Ages: it's not (all) about the money. Economic History Working Papers (360). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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For long periods of history, a significant proportion of the labour force has received all or part of their wages in non-monetary in-kind payments. Despite its historical ubiquity, this form of labour remuneration remains poorly understood. This paper presents a framework which allows for the valuation and interpretation of in-kind wages. We apply our method to a new dataset of agricultural wages for labourers in medieval England (1270-1440), most of whom received a composite wage for which in-kind payment was the largest share. Assessing the market value of the wages these workers received, we find an increase in the relative importance of cash payments in the latter decades of the 14th century. We show that this was connected to a fundamental shift in labour relations, providing new empirical insights into the so-called ‘golden age of labour’ that followed the Black Death.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
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 > J3 - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs > J33 - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J4 - Particular Labor Markets > J42 - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
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
N - Economic History > N5 - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries > N53 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2023 08:18
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2023 23:52

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