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Housing construction and industrilization in Germany between 1850 and 1913

Resource Type
  • Wellenreuther, Thomas
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • Abstract

    The investigation of industrialization is one of the most central topics of economic history. It contributes to better understanding of our economy today and the way it works. The housing construction sector has been neglected in the literature on German industrialization history so far. The present study tends to close this gap with an analysis of this sector. Not only steak, coal and railways were important for industrialization, but also sectors that produced goods to satisfy basic needs like food, clothing and housing in those times of fast population growth. The housing sector played a special role because of its investing character. A very suitable period of investigation of the housing sector is the 19th century. In this period there were a lot of changes in the German economy. The agriculturally orientated society developed into an industrial society that managed the provision of goods with the help of markets and that had a population which moved to the cities. The basic need of housing was satisfied by market production; urban housing market emerged. The term of ‘housing production’ came up. The emergence of housing cycles is directly related with industrialization. Housing production faced times of speculation booms, that where followed by waves of bankruptcies and stagnation. The housing sector is more suited than other sectors to display the time dimension of the industrialization process which besides the growth also consists in the cyclicality of the development. For the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Dortmund, data was collected that were eligible for the analysis of housing construction. The author´s method refers to the econometric method. Thereby the study follows the tradition of the “New Economic History School” that comes from America and is since the 60s concerned with an approximation between economic science and historical science (especially in the area of economic history). “The first part of this study deals with the quantitative importance of the housing sector during the German industrialization and with the qualitative role of this sector for the explanation of Industrialization. In the second part of the investigation developments of investments in the housing sector of different cities are described and compared with each other. Of primary importance is the comparison regarding economic development. The third part tries to explain the total amount of investment in the housing sector exemplified by Hamburg. For this explanation an econometric model will be formulated and tested. In part five the results of the present study linked to the questions of part one will be summarized and explanatory contributions for the German industrialization history will be drawn as a conclusion.“(Wellenreuther, T., a. cit., p. 39). “To compare the development of the different cities, indicators need to be found, that reflect the changes of investments in the construction sector in over a long time period. As in some cities there exists only data of the quantities, we decided to use only quantities for the description of housing investments in order to achieve comparability. The physical outcome of the economic activity of investments in housing is living space… This output has a value dimension. When one only uses quantities as indicators one ignores the quality aspect. Value series include the quality aspect but compared to series of quantities they have the disadvantage that empirical values are given in monetary amounts. This leads to distortion if there were changes in prices that were not caused by changes in quality but by inflation or by changes in price relations… Since the construction costs in the short and medium term were affected by strong fluctuations, the value series for current prices give a distorted impression of construction activities.” (Wellenreuther, T., a. cit., p. 40, 41, 42). The economic model that the author develops theoretically needs Data with a high quality. Therefor the model used for the explanations of investments in housing could only be tested for Hamburg, because only in this case the necessary data was available. But the comparison with other German cities shows that Hamburg was not an unusual phenomenon but developed representatively for the general development in Germany. Data tables in HISTAT: A. Tables for Germany A.01 Private consumption of housing and the entire private consumption in Germany (1850-1913) A.02 Capital in non-agricultural housing and total capital stock in (1850-1913) A.03 Investment in non-agricultural housing and total investments in Germany (1851-1913) A.04 Structure of net investments by economic sectors in Germany, in percent (1851-1913) A.05 Population, marriages and investments in housing in Germany (1851-1913) A.06 Capital stock and investments in non-agricultural housing in Germany (1850-1913) B. Tables for Hamburg B.01 Fire insurances and amount of rooms in Hamburg (1869-1913) B.02a Construction of an interest rate index for Hamburg (1872-1912) B.02b Index of construction costs for Hamburg, 1913 = 100 (1871-1913) B.03 The internal rate of return on mortgages in Hamburg (1835-1883) B.04 Development of interest rates in Hamburg (1872-1913) B.05a Proportion of housing rooms of the total number of privately used rooms in the inner city of Hamburg (1890-1918) B.05b Proportion of housing rooms of the total number of privately used rooms in the entire Hamburg (1890-1918) B.05c Proportion of housing rooms of the total number of privately used rooms in the outer city of Hamburg (1890-1918) B.06a Value based share of housing in the total value of privately used rooms in the inner city of Hamburg (1890-1918) B.06b Value based share of housing in the total value of privately used rooms in the entire city of Hamburg (1890-1918) B.06c Value based share of housing in the total value of privately used rooms in the outer city of Hamburg (1890-1918) B.07 Number of rooms in Hamburg (1869-1913) B.08 Development of rents in the suburbs of Hamburg (1874-1913) B.09 Proportion of empty apartments, per capita income, marriages relative to the housing stock in Hamburg (1874-1913) C. Tables for Berlin C.01 Number and increase of rooms in Berlin (1849-1909) D. Tables for Frankfurt D.01 Number of buildings in Frankfurt (1863-1907) D.02 Stock of buildings in Frankfurt (1862-1907) E. Tables for Munich E.01 Number of new buildings in Munich (1851-1911) E.02 Stock of buildings in Munich (1850-1911) F. Tables for Dortmund F.01 Number of new homes in Dortmund (1854-1913) F.02 Stock of buildings in Dortmund (1853-1913)
Temporal Coverage
  • 1850 / 1913
Geographic Coverage
  • Historical German lands (-1871) (DQDE)
  • German Reich (1871-1945) (DXDE)
Collection Mode
Data and File Information
  • Unit Type: Text Unit
    Number of Units: 63
    Number of Variables: 92
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
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Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8477 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Wellenreuther, Thomas, 1989: Wohnungsbau und Industrialisierung. Eine ökonometrische Untersuchung am Beispiel Deutschlands von 1850 bis 1913. Köln: Bergisch Gladbach/Köln: Verlag Josef Eul. Zugl.: Münster, Univ., Diss., 1987.

Update Metadata: 2017-12-29 | Issue Number: 75 | Registration Date: 2011-05-11

Wellenreuther, Thomas (2011): Wohnungsbau und Industrialisierung in Deutschland von 1850 bis 1913. Version: 1.0.0. GESIS Datenarchiv. Dataset.