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Poverty or Prosperity in Northern India? New Evidence on Real Wages, 1590s-1870s

Resource Type
  • de Zwart, Pim (Wageningen University)
  • Lucassen, Jan (International Review of Social History)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal)
    • Award Number: 229548
  • Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
    • Award Number: 275-53-016
Free Keywords
wages; living standards; prices; real wages; india; colonialism
  • Abstract

    These files contain all the data used in the publication "Poverty or Prosperity in Northern India? New Evidence on Real Wages, 1590s-1870s".

    This paper introduces a new dataset on wages in northern India (from Gujarat in the West to Bengal in the East) from the 1590s to the 1870s. It follows Allen’s subsistence basket methodology to compute internationally comparable real wages to shed light on developments in Indian living standards over time, as well as to test some of the assumptions underlying the comparative real wage methodology. It adjusts the comparative cost of living indices to take into account differences in caloric intake due to variances in heights. Furthermore, the paper discusses the male/female wage gap in northern India. We demonstrate that the Great Divergence started somewhere in the late seventeenth century. This gap widens further after the 1720s and especially after the 1800s. It is subsequently primarily England’s spurt and India’s stagnation in the first half of the nineteenth century which brought about most serious differences in the standard of living in Eurasia. If the British colonial state is to blame – as often happens in the literature on India’s persistent poverty – it is in their failure to improve the already deteriorated situation after they had become the near-undisputed masters of India since 1820.
Temporal Coverage
  • 1590-01-01 / 1870-12-31
    Time Period: Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1590--Sat Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1870
Geographic Coverage
  • India
  • South Asia

Update Metadata: 2020-03-25 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-03-25

de Zwart, Pim; Lucassen, Jan (2020): Poverty or Prosperity in Northern India? New Evidence on Real Wages, 1590s-1870s. Version: 1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.