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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Akademie Verlag December 31, 2018

Real Wages in Germany during the First Phase of Industrialization, 1850-1889

  • Ulrich Pfister EMAIL logo


The study constructs new wage series at the branch level and aggregates them to an index of nominal wages in industry and urban trades in 18481889. Moreover, the study develops new food price and rent indices. These are then combined with price indices for other categories of household expenditure from Hoffmann (1965) into a consumer price index for 1850-1889. The new real wage index shows little growth for the third quarter of the nineteenth century; the first phase of rapid industrialization from the 1840s to the early 1870s had only a small positive impact on the living standard of the industrial and urban lower classes. Only from the 1880s, when Germany moved into a second phase of industrialization, did the real wage experience a sustained and rapid increase. Nevertheless, the diversification of employment opportunities taking place in the wake of industrialization and the European grain invasion were accompanied by a marked reduction of income volatility among lower-class households already from the 1870s.

JEL Classification: J 31; N 13; N 33
  1. Supplementary Material: The online version of this article (DOI: 10.1515/jbwg-2018-0019) offers supplementary material for authorized users. A1: Individual wage series: Data, data description and source references. A2: Price indices: Weights, price indices of broad categories of expenditure. A3: Aggregate indices: Nominal wages at the branch level, CPI, nominal and real wages in industry and urban trades.

Published Online: 2018-12-31
Published in Print: 2018-11-27

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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