The Economic History Review

Real wages once more: a response to Judy Stephenson

Volume 72 Issue 2
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Pages: 738-754Authors: Robert C. Allen
Published online: February 10, 2018DOI: 10.1111/ehr.12663

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Abstract This article examines Judy Stephenson’s claim that institutional wage series such as those of Greenwich Hospital overstate the earnings of building workers by 20 to 30 per cent, and it is argued here that the conclusion is unpersuasive. Whatever adjustments to existing wage series are necessary in view of her new evidence would have no significant implications for real wages in England compared to the rest of the world. Consequently, Stephenson’s findings do not call into question the high wage explanation for the industrial revolution.