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Cost of Living of Industrial Workers in the United States and Europe, 1888-1890

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • Haines, Michael R. (Colgate University)
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Collective Title
  • Cost of Living Survey Series
Publication Date
Free Keywords
blue collar workers; cost of living; economic indicators; expenses; families; household composition; household expenditures; households; income; industrial production; industry; nineteenth century; urban population; working class
  • Abstract

    These data were gathered in order to determine the cost of living as well as the cost of production in selected industries in the United States and several Western European countries. The study is comprised of nine industries (cotton and woolen textiles, glass, pig iron, bar iron, steel, bituminous coal, coke, and iron ore) and contains family-level information on the household composition, income and expenditures of workers in these industries. Additional topics covered include sources of income, ages and sex of children, detailed occupation of the household head, detailed expenditures for food as well as nonfood items, and characteristics of the family's dwelling units.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Analytic Variables
    • DS2: Interviewer Comments
Temporal Coverage
  • 1888 / 1890
    Time period: 1888--1890
Geographic Coverage
  • Belgium
  • Europe
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • Global
Sampled Universe
Industrial workers and their families in 24 states in the United States and in 5 European nations (France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Belgium). Smallest Geographic Unit: country
Collection Mode
  • (1) Units of measurement for variables describing income, expenditure, and goods consumed can be found in the codebook. (2) For variable OCC464 (464 Occupation Codes) the following codes are undocumented: 206, 207, 247, and 503. (3) The data file for Part 2 is a text file containing interviewer comments which provide additional information about the household. There are no setup files to accompany the Part 2 data file.

2006-12-07 The Analytic Variables data file has been revised to correct various discrepancies found in the original file. Additional data including various average price indices, were also added to the file as well as SAS, SPSS, and Stata setup files, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The original codebooks are now available in PDF format.
This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 7711 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR07711.v1
  • Hargis, Peggy G., Horan, Patrick M.. Bounded by Culture or Culture Bound: Ethnicity, Schooling, and the Interplay of Theory and Evidence. Historical Methods.37, (1), 23-33.2004.
    • ID: 10.3200/HMTS.37.1.23-33 (DOI)
  • Costa, Dora L.. American Living Standards, 1888-1994: Evidence from Consumer Expenditures. NBER Working Paper Series.7650, Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. 2000.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Costa, Dora L.. American Living Standards: Evidence from Recreational Expenditures. NBER Working Paper Series.7148, Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. 1999.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Costa, Dora L.. Less of a Luxury: The Rise of Recreation Since 1888. NBER Working Paper Series.6054, Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. 1997.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Austin, Erik W., Clubb, Jerome M., Granda, Peter A.. Understanding Living Conditions: The Cost of Living Surveys in the U.S., 1888-1937. American Statistical Association Annual Meeting.Atlanta, GA. 1991.
  • Horan, Patrick M., Hargis, Peggy G.. Children's Work and Schooling in the Late Nineteenth-Century Family Economy. American Sociological Review.56, (5), 583-596.1991.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Clubb, Jerome M., Austin, Erik W., Kirk, Gordon W.. The Process of Historical Inquiry: Everyday Lives of Working Americans. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. 1989.
  • Parsons, Donald O., Goldin, Claudia. Parental altruism and self-interest: child labor among late nineteenth-century American families. Economic Inquiry.27, (4), 637 -1989.
    • ID: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.1989.tb00794.x (DOI)
  • Angus, David L., Mirel, Jeffrey E.. From Spellers to Spindles: Work-Force Entry by the Children of Textile Workers, 1888-1890. Social Science History.9, (2), 123-144.1985.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Hoover, Greg A.. Supplemental Family Income Sources: Ethnic Differences in Nineteenth-Century Industrial America. Social Science History.9, (3), 293-306.1985.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Dubnoff, Steven. A Method for Estimating the Economic Welfare of American Families of Any Comparison, 1860-1909. Historical Methods.13, (3), 171-180.1980.
  • Modell, John. Patterns of consumption, acculturation, and family income strategies in late-nineteenth century America. Family and Population in Nineteenth-Century America.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1978.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 12 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Haines, Michael R. (1984): Cost of Living of Industrial Workers in the United States and Europe, 1888-1890. Archival Version. Cost of Living Survey Series. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.