Italy and the Little Divergence in Wages and Prices: New Data, New Results

47 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2020

See all articles by Mauro Rota

Mauro Rota

Sapienza University of Rome

Jacob Weisdorf

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

We present new and improved long-run wage indices for skilled and unskilled construction workers in Italy. Our data avoid multiple issues pestering earlier wage indices, including regional shifts and sub-contractor mark-ups, making our new indices the first consistent day-wage sequences for early-modern Italy. Our improved wages, obtained from the construction of the St Peter's Church in Rome, consolidate the traditional view that urban Italy began a prolonged economic downturn during the mid-17th century. The wages also offer sustenance to the idea that epidemics instigated the country's long decline. Comparison with newly downscaled construction wages for London show that Roman workers, despite Italy's downturn, out-earned their early-modern English counterparts. This suggests that high wages alone were not enough to trigger industrialisation.

Keywords: Construction, Divergence, industrial revolution, living standards, prices, wages

JEL Classification: I3, J3, J4, J8, N33

Suggested Citation

Rota, Mauro and Weisdorf, Jacob, Italy and the Little Divergence in Wages and Prices: New Data, New Results (January 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14295, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3518637

Mauro Rota (Contact Author)

Sapienza University of Rome ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5
Rome, 00185
Italy

Jacob Weisdorf

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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