Real Contracts and Mistaken Wages: The Organisation of Work and Pay in London Building Trades 1650-1800

44 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2016

See all articles by Judy Z. Stephenson

Judy Z. Stephenson

University of Oxford - Wadham College; Cambridge Group For the History of Population and Social Structure

Date Written: January 27, 2016

Abstract

Existing series suggest wages in London were substantially higher than in other European cities from 1650 to 1800. This paper presents new evidence from the construction sites that supplied the underlying wage data, and uncovers the contractual and organisational context in which it was recorded. Institutional records of wages were profoundly affected by structural changes in the seventeenth century, particularly the emergence of building contractors. The actual wages paid to London building workers were twenty to thirty per cent below current estimates. Wages in London were lower than Amsterdam, and little higher than elsewhere in North West Europe until 1780.

Keywords: Building wages, Industrial Revolution, High wage economy, Standard of living, Great Britain,18th Century, London wages, Construction history

JEL Classification: N00, N33, N63, N83, N93

Suggested Citation

Stephenson, Judy Z., Real Contracts and Mistaken Wages: The Organisation of Work and Pay in London Building Trades 1650-1800 (January 27, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2723977 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2723977

Judy Z. Stephenson (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Wadham College ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Cambridge Group For the History of Population and Social Structure ( email )

Sir William Hardy Building
Downing Place, Cambridge, Cambs. CB2 3EN
United Kingdom

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