Proposal preview

Real Wages across the Globe: From Antiquity to the Present

Real wages are a critical measure for human well-being. Over the past 1½ decade, the study of real wages has flourished and much progress has been made in making real wages comparable over time and space. As a result, scholars have been constructing series of wages and prices in order to compute “welfare” or “subsistence” ratios for almost all parts of the globe, and from antiquity to the present. The results of these studies have shed light on important issues in global economic history by comparing living standards within Europe, as well as between Europe and Asia and analysing the development of living standards in various colonial economies. In this panel we will review the results of this research: what has the global real wage project anno 2018 taught us about long-term trends in economic growth and what explains those trends? When did incomes of the wage-earning classes converge and diverge across the globe and what factors drove these trends and how are they related to the different “Waves of Globalization”?

We invite new work on real wages in hitherto unexplored regions and/or time-periods, as well as papers concerned with the investigation of female and children’s wages: how does the inclusion of these earnings affect our view of household living standards in the past? Are there major differences between countries and world regions, and what explains this? Papers may also investigate different aspects and assumptions of the subsistence ratio methodology, or analyse different trends in real wages between different occupations, or between different regions within a country.


  • Robert C Allen, NYU Abu Dhabi,, United Arab Emirates
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden, Utrecht University,, Netherlands
  • Pim de Zwart, Wageningen University,, Netherlands
  • Michail Moatsos, Utrecht University,, Netherlands

Session members

  • Robert C Allen, NYU Abu Dhabi,
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden, Utrecht University,
  • Pim de Zwart, Wageningen University,
  • Michail Moatsos, Utrecht University,

Proposed discussant(s)

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