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Industrial wages in mid-1880s Sweden: estimations beyond Bagge’s Wages in Sweden. Data, source and methods

Working paper
Authors Jesper Hamark
Kristoffer Collin
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Language en
Keywords Sweden 1880s, industrial wages, regional wages, absolute wage levels, relative wages, male and female wages, Gösta Bagge, Wages in Sweden
Subject categories Economic History


Most researchers interested in Swedish wages during early industrialization have used the seminal work Wages in Sweden from the 1930s as their point of departure. Whereas the material in Wages in Sweden solidly tracks the movements of wages, it is not suitable for comparisons across industries or counties at a specific point in time. Nor should Wages in Sweden be used to estimate wages in absolute levels. Based on hitherto-unused source material from a large, nationwide public inquiry, we estimate industrial wages in the mid-1880s. The population consists of industrial workers with different experience, skills and firm attachment. Our estimations include a national wage as well as inter-industry and inter-regional wages in both absolute and relative terms, weighted by employment. The findings call for a substantial revision of relative wages across industries. They also indicate that the wage dispersion across industries and counties was lower than previously thought. We estimate the national wage for women as being half the size of that of men.

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