Programme Real Wages Workshop

Workshop: The global and long-term development of real wages: methods, problems and possibilities

Dates: 2-3 November, 2012
Venue: International Institute of Social History, Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam (

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Friday November 2

09.30-10.00 Welcome / coffee


10.00-10.30 Introduction

Jan Luiten van Zanden, ‘Real wages: global and long-term developments.’ [with Pim de Zwart]

10.30-12.30 Europe and the Little Divergence

Chair:   Jacob Weisdorf
Discussant:  Jaime Reis

Christiaan van Bochove: ‘Standards of living in northern Europe during the pre-industrial period.’

Mikolaj Malinowski: ‘Real wages in the Kingdom of Poland in a global perspective, 1500-1795. Skill-premium and the Little Divergence.’

Ernesto Lopez: ‘A comparative approach to the evolution of real wages in early modern Spain. First Results and Some Methodological Issues’ [with Santiago Piquero].

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-15.30 Women and the family

Chair:   Christiaan van Bochove
Discussant:  Jan Luiten van Zanden

Eric Schneider: ‘Real Wages and the Family: Adjusting Real Wages to Changing Demography in Pre-Modern England’.

Jacob Weisdorf: ‘Desperate or Housewives? New Light on the Male Breadwinner Model and the English Living Standard Debate’ [with Tine De Moor]

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk: ‘From male breadwinner to family wage: historiographical and methodological suggestions for reconstructing long-term series of wages in pre-industrial societies.’

15.30-15.45 Tea

15.45-17.45 Wages and other variables

Chair:   Ewout Frankema
Discussant:  Jeffrey Williamson

Robert C. Allen: ‘Historical real wage estimates and modern poverty lines’.

Sevket Pamuk: ‘Real Wages and GDP per capita in Pre-Industrial Economies’

Jaime Reis: ‘Wages in Portugal and the puzzle of the rent-wage ratio: 16th to 18th centuries.’

18.00-late: Dinner (for paper presenters only)


Saturday November 3

09.00-10.30 Asia and the Great Divergence, Pt. 1: China

Chair:   Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk
Discussant:  Robert C. Allen

Bas van Leeuwen and Reinhard Pirngruber: ‘The standard of living and economic stability in Great Empires: a comparison between the Roman, Seleucid and Han Empires’ [with Jieli van Leeuwen-Li].

Debin Ma: ‘Money, Prices and Wages in Northern China on the eve of Opium War, evidences from Tong Taishen account books (1800-1850)’

10.30-10.45 Tea

11.00-12.30 Asia and the Great Divergence, Pt. 2: Japan and Java

Chair:   Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk
Discussant:  Sevket Pamuk

Jean-Pascal Bassino: ‘Relative prices and real urban wages in Japan, 1340-1860’ [with Kyoji Fukao and Masanori Takashima]

Pim de Zwart: ‘Labour, wages and living standards in Java, 1680-1940’ [with Jan Luiten van Zanden]

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30– 15.00 Colonialism and inequality, Pt. 1: the Americas

Chair:   Jan Luiten van Zanden
Discussant:  Ewout Frankema

Jeffrey Williamson: ‘Using Social Tables: American Incomes 1774-1860’.

Tommy Murphy: ‘The Colonial Origins of the Divergence in the Americas: A Labour Market Approach’ [with Robert C. Allen and Eric Schneider].

15.00-15.15 Tea

15.15-16.45 Colonialism and inequality, Pt. 2: Africa

Chair:    Jan Luiten van Zanden
Discussant:     Debin Ma

Klas Ronnback: ‘Living standards on the pre-colonial Gold Coast.’

Ewout Frankema and Marlous van Waijenburg: ‘When did Africa fall behind? Comparative living standards in Africa and Asia, 1870-present’.

16.45-17.00 Conclusion

17.00-18.00 Drinks