Was there an 'industrious revolution' before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300-1830

Robert (Bob) Allen, J. L. Weisdorf

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    It is conventionally assumed that the pre-modern working year was fixed and that consumption varied with changes in wages and prices. This is challenged by the twin theories of the 'industrious' revolution and the consumer revolution, positing a longer working year as people earned surplus money to buy novel goods. In this study, we turn the conventional view on its head, fixing consumption rather than labour input. Specifically, we use a basket of basic consumption goods and compute the working year of rural and urban day labourers required to achieve that. By comparing with independent estimates of the actual working year, we find two 'industrious' revolutions among rural workers; both, however, are attributable to economic hardship, and we detect no signs of a consumer revolution. For urban labourers, by contrast, a growing gap between their actual working year and the work required to buy the basket provides great scope for a consumer revolution.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)715-729
    Number of pages15
    JournalEconomic History Review
    Volume64
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

    Fingerprint

    England
    Revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    Exercise
    Consumer Revolution
    Consumer revolution
    Industrial revolution
    Laborers
    Basket
    Wages
    Surplus
    Premodern
    Economics
    Workers
    Conventional
    Labor

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Economics and Econometrics

    Cite this

    Was there an 'industrious revolution' before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300-1830. / Allen, Robert (Bob); Weisdorf, J. L.

    In: Economic History Review, Vol. 64, No. 3, 01.08.2011, p. 715-729.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    @article{663d2e4a13df452fb0058a3865ac3cb5,
    title = "Was there an 'industrious revolution' before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300-1830",
    abstract = "It is conventionally assumed that the pre-modern working year was fixed and that consumption varied with changes in wages and prices. This is challenged by the twin theories of the 'industrious' revolution and the consumer revolution, positing a longer working year as people earned surplus money to buy novel goods. In this study, we turn the conventional view on its head, fixing consumption rather than labour input. Specifically, we use a basket of basic consumption goods and compute the working year of rural and urban day labourers required to achieve that. By comparing with independent estimates of the actual working year, we find two 'industrious' revolutions among rural workers; both, however, are attributable to economic hardship, and we detect no signs of a consumer revolution. For urban labourers, by contrast, a growing gap between their actual working year and the work required to buy the basket provides great scope for a consumer revolution.",
    author = "Allen, {Robert (Bob)} and Weisdorf, {J. L.}",
    year = "2011",
    month = "8",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00566.x",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "64",
    pages = "715--729",
    journal = "Economic History Review",
    issn = "0013-0117",
    publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
    number = "3",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Was there an 'industrious revolution' before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300-1830

    AU - Allen, Robert (Bob)

    AU - Weisdorf, J. L.

    PY - 2011/8/1

    Y1 - 2011/8/1

    N2 - It is conventionally assumed that the pre-modern working year was fixed and that consumption varied with changes in wages and prices. This is challenged by the twin theories of the 'industrious' revolution and the consumer revolution, positing a longer working year as people earned surplus money to buy novel goods. In this study, we turn the conventional view on its head, fixing consumption rather than labour input. Specifically, we use a basket of basic consumption goods and compute the working year of rural and urban day labourers required to achieve that. By comparing with independent estimates of the actual working year, we find two 'industrious' revolutions among rural workers; both, however, are attributable to economic hardship, and we detect no signs of a consumer revolution. For urban labourers, by contrast, a growing gap between their actual working year and the work required to buy the basket provides great scope for a consumer revolution.

    AB - It is conventionally assumed that the pre-modern working year was fixed and that consumption varied with changes in wages and prices. This is challenged by the twin theories of the 'industrious' revolution and the consumer revolution, positing a longer working year as people earned surplus money to buy novel goods. In this study, we turn the conventional view on its head, fixing consumption rather than labour input. Specifically, we use a basket of basic consumption goods and compute the working year of rural and urban day labourers required to achieve that. By comparing with independent estimates of the actual working year, we find two 'industrious' revolutions among rural workers; both, however, are attributable to economic hardship, and we detect no signs of a consumer revolution. For urban labourers, by contrast, a growing gap between their actual working year and the work required to buy the basket provides great scope for a consumer revolution.

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79960458840&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=79960458840&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00566.x

    DO - 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00566.x

    M3 - Article

    VL - 64

    SP - 715

    EP - 729

    JO - Economic History Review

    JF - Economic History Review

    SN - 0013-0117

    IS - 3

    ER -