The Economic History Review

The evolution of wages in early modern Normandy (1600–1850)

Volume 76 Issue 3
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Pages: 917-940Authors: Cédric Chambru, Paul Maneuvrier-Hervieu
Published online: December 12, 2022DOI: 10.1111/ehr.13220

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This article presents new estimates of wages for Normandy between 1600 and 1850. We use a vast array of primary and secondary sources to assemble two new databases on wages and commodity prices to establish a new regional consumer price index (CPI) and twelve regional wage series. We find that unskilled labourers earned similar wages across the agricultural, maritime, and textile sectors. Historical evidence suggests that Norman employers grappled with a tight labour market, which placed more pressure on wage increases. We posit that this situation is best explained by the combination of the early fertility transition, resulting in slow demographic growth and the rapid development of the textile industry accelerated by the arrival of cotton. Finally, we also provide tentative evidence suggesting that labourers with stable employment could have earned a little less than their English counterparts during this period.