تولید ناخالص داخلی سرانه یا دستمزدهای واقعی ؟درک دیدگاه های متضاد در دوران ماقبل صنعتی اروپا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|6501||2008||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Explorations in Economic History, Volume 45, Issue 2, April 2008, Pages 147–163
This paper studies the apparent inconsistency between the evolution of GDP per capita and real wages in pre-industrial Europe. We show that these two measures will diverge when any of the three following factors are present: changes in income distribution, changes in labour supply per capita and changes in relative prices. We propose a methodology for measuring the effects of these three factors and apply it to the case of 18th century England. For this particular episode the gap between the growth of GDP per capita and real wages can be successfully explained and the main explanatory factor is changes in labour supply per capita. Some further conclusions are drawn from the experience of England during the 19th century and Europe during the early modern period.
How are we to regard the evolution of economic well-being over the pre-industrial period? Were pre-industrial economies stuck in a long term equilibrium characterized by a level of economic well-being that showed no trend over several centuries? Or did pre-industrial economies experience sustained growth which, despite being at much slower rates than those we are currently used to, led over the course of the centuries to large and significant rises in living standards? These difficult questions have occupied social scientists at least since Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. Unfortunately, notwithstanding a large and insightful literature, we seem to be as far away from a consensus today as we were two centuries ago. An important reason for this is the fact that different measures of economic well-being seem to tell surprisingly different stories about pre-industrial economies. Thus, what one believes will inevitably be conditioned by what measure one is inclined to trust. There are essentially two measures of economic well-being for which we have long time series extending well before the 19th century: the real wage and GDP per capita.1 Each can lay claim to a long history of scholarly effort and important improvements in their methodologies over time, and surprisingly, each of them shows a very different trend over the pre-industrial period. Real wage estimates consistently show no evidence of a positive trend over the centuries going from the late middle ages to the industrial revolution. Authors have computed real wage series for several European countries and cities and, more recently, for some non-European societies.2 The most common outcome of these estimates is actually an overall fall in real wages between the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Only the most successful European economies, namely England and the Netherlands, were able to maintain their real wages over this period. This description is remarkably consistent across the estimates of different authors, allowing for relatively modest quantitative differences. Estimates of GDP and GDP per capita over the pre-industrial period are available for fewer countries and extend over a shorter time interval.3 These estimates have a somewhat larger degree of uncertainty than those for real wages, as less work has been done on them and authors may disagree about their values. There have been at least two attempts at summarizing the overall picture for Europe: the work of Maddison, 2001, Maddison, 2003 and Van Zanden, 2001. Maddison (2001) is by far the most optimistic, proposing that European GDP per capita was on a persistent positive trend over as long as eight centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution. Van Zanden (2001) presents a less optimistic picture but still estimates considerable increases in GDP per capita in certain European countries over relatively long periods of time. It is thus difficult to escape the conclusion that real wage and GDP per capita estimates for pre-industrial Europe contradict each other. Let us illustrate this conflict with the case of England. Fig. 1 shows three recent estimates of the English real wage from the early 14th century to the late 19th century from Allen, 2001, Clark, 2005 and Clark, 2007.4 It is readily apparent that English real wages followed several low-frequency cycles, some of which clearly reflect contemporaneous changes in population. The Black Death, which wiped out as much as 60% of the English population in the mid-14th century (Benedictow, 2004), was followed by a steep rise in the real wage. The ensuing population recovery over the 15th and 16th centuries was accompanied by a secular fall in real wages.5 The most notable feature of Fig. 1 is the absence of any positive trend over the pre-industrial period. Real wages at the turn of the 19th century were not much different from what they had been over the preceding six centuries. Contrast the message from Fig. 1 with the estimates of the evolution of English GDP per capita over the period 1500–1800 provided in Table 1. An increase of GDP per capita of 153% (Maddison, 2001) or 92% (Van Zanden, 2001) over these three centuries would denote a large improvement in economic well-being.6 This clearly contradicts the message stemming from the real wage literature and conflicts with Malthusian interpretations of the early modern period. Trenchant criticism has at times occurred between these camps. De Vries (1994) warned that “The real wage indexes that give such a sombre and static portrayal of modern purchasing power require caution and scepticism”, while Maddison (2001) states that “The tradition in real wage measurement is quite simplistic compared with that in demography or national accounts”. Both de Vries and Maddison have sustained their criticism with valid objections, for example the lack of representativity in the wage data. Indeed, most real wage studies use data on a particular type of worker, like construction workers, that constitute only a small fraction of the total population. But recent efforts in the real wage literature have successfully dealt with many of these issues. Clark (2007), for instance, constructs a real wage series for workers employed in agriculture—the largest sector of pre-industrial economies—and finds a pattern very similar to earlier studies.7 The aim of this paper is to address this apparent inconsistency between real wages and GDP per capita in pre-industrial Europe. It is not the intention to prove either of these two measures wrong. Instead we will show that persistent differences in the growth rates of GDP per capita and real wages are to be expected in the presence of any of the three following factors: (i) Changes in the share of national income allocated to labour, (ii) Changes in the labour supply per capita and (iii) Changes in relative prices. We contribute to the literature by linking the methodology used to calculate growth rates of GDP per capita with that used in the real wage literature. We derive algebraically the effects of the three factors mentioned above and apply our methodology to a particular case: England during the 18th century. We show that changes in income distribution and in labour supply per capita are able to explain a divergence between GDP per capita and real wages of the same magnitude as that observed in the data. After analysing the case of 18th century England in detail we check that our framework is also consistent with the English experience during the 19th century. We conclude by discussing the case of continental Europe and set a research agenda for the future.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The evolution of living standards and economic well-being over the pre-industrial period is a huge research area where our questions easily outnumber our answers. This paper addresses one of such questions: why are estimates of GDP per capita and real wages over the pre-industrial period seemingly contradicting each other? We hope to have contributed to the literature on two different levels. On a theoretical level, we have offered an accounting framework that decomposes the difference between GDP per capita and real wages into three components: changes in income distribution, labour supply per capita and relative prices. We believe that this framework can help shed light on this question and illustrate how GDP per capita and real wages will perform differently if the economy experiences these types of changes. The attention of the researcher can then be focused on looking for evidence of these changes. On an empirical level we have applied our framework to England during the 18th and 19th centuries. We show that the contrasting experiences of these two centuries can be understood as the consequence of changes in income distribution and labour supply per capita. The next step on the empirical side would be to try to reconcile the evolution of GDP per capita and real wages in the rest of Europe. This is a major challenge, as the figures in Table 6 reveal. Here we compare GDP per capita growth estimates from Van Zanden (2001) with real wage growth estimates from Allen (2001) for six European countries for the period 1500–1820 (real wage estimates refer to a major city within each country). The general picture is clear: real wages grew much slower (or decreased much faster) than GDP per capita in all countries. This pan-European real wage underperformance during the early modern period is puzzling and an explanation for it should be high on the researchers’ agendas. Is it possible that a common force was sweeping throughout Europe during this period and causing the systematic pattern we see in Table 6? An interesting possibility would be the existence of an “industrious revolution” taking place not just in England but in several parts of the continent, though to different degrees. This factor was the dominant one in our analysis of 18th century England, and we might speculate that the English experience had some points in common with other European countries. If the working year was progressively lengthening all over Europe between 1500 and 1820, we would expect the phenomenon to be most pronounced in North-Western Europe for at least two reasons. First, the lengthening of the working year was achieved mostly by increasing the number of days worked through the progressive elimination of religious holidays and “St. Monday”. This was more likely to take place in protestant countries, as exposed by Max Weber’s famous thesis on the protestant ethic (Weber, 1930). Second, the period between the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution saw a shift in the balance of economic power towards North-Western Europe and markets became a more pervasive feature of the economic landscape there. Our reading of Jan de Vries’ work is that one of the main driving forces behind the “industrious revolution” in England was the increased presence of the market as a buyer of labour and a seller of consumption goods. The argument would then be that the more developed markets of North-Western Europe would have had a larger effect on workers there; “pushing” them to supply more labour and consume more goods. If, as we suggest, the increase in labour supply per capita was more marked in North-Western Europe our framework would predict ceteris paribus a larger wedge between the growth rates of GDP per capita and real wages in those countries. It is certainly too soon to make strong claims in this area, but one cannot but help remarking that this is precisely the case in the data presented in Table 6. The difference between growth rates is greatest in North-Western European countries (108% in the UK, 74% in the Netherlands and 52% in Belgium) and falls as we move towards the European “periphery” (38% in Italy, 39% in Spain, 15% in Poland). It is as if the “work ethic” of protestant countries was cruelly rewarded with a larger deficit of real wages with respect to GDP per capita. The above discussion is to be regarded as highly speculative as there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the estimates of GDP per capita for this period. The first task of future research should be to extend the work in this area: we need to consolidate the estimates for the countries that are present in Table 6 and construct estimates for those that aren’t. France and Germany, in particular, are two important missing countries whose GDP per capita estimates could be readily compared with real wage estimates for French and German cities calculated by Allen (2001). Regarding real wages, estimates for countries other than England are relatively rare and one would like to see Allen’s calculations confirmed by other researchers. Once we feel more secure of the patterns of these two measures over the pre-industrial period we can look for explanations of their eventual divergence. Changes in income distribution and changes in labour supply per capita offer the most research “bang for the buck” since their effects can be applied without the need for detailed sectorial information. If the pattern we identified in Table 6 is confirmed by future research then an explanation based on increased working effort throughout Europe—but specially in North-Western Europe—could gain acceptance and improve our understanding of this challenging episode of economic history.