Inequality of pay in Germany, late 15th century to 1889.
- Pfister, Ulrich (Universität Münster, Historisches Seminar)
- Historical Studies Data
AbstractThis study examines three dimensions of wage inequality in Germany during four centuries (1485 - 1889), namely sectoral wage variations, skill premium as an indicator of the influence of human capital on wage income, and gender difference. It opens with an overview of the nominal and real wages of urban workers from the 16th to the 19th century. It examines the wages of the following groups: (1) for urban construction, the wages of skilled craftsmen are compared with the wages of unskilled workers (skill premium); (2) wages in agriculture are compared with wages in the industrial sector; (3) the wage evolution of the female agricultural labour force is analysed in relation to the wages of male agricultural workers. For this purpose, two data sets on wages recently compiled by the author are used, which are supplemented with additional information, in particular on wages in agriculture (see Pfister 2019, 217-222). The data set provided here includes a series on skill premiums in urban construction, a series on the daily wages of male farmworkers at the Nordkirchen and Westphalia estates, and synthetic series on nominal wages in urban construction and on the consumer goods price index over the long period 1500-1913. 1. the skill premium (Table A-01) The skill premium is measured here as the wage differential by which the daily wages of skilled craftsmen exceed those of unskilled workers (e.g. 0.51 means that the daily wages of skilled craftsmen are 51% higher than those of unskilled workers). Data from 18 cities are available for the determination of the skill premium. The database of prices and wages until 1850 compiled by Pfister (2017; GESIS ZA8636) represents the main source for the daily wages of both skilled and unskilled construction workers. For the period from 1840 to 1880, the wage data compiled in Pfister (2018; GESIS ZA8710) on the urban building trade is used as a supplementary source. Appendix 1 documents at the level of individual cities the sources and the years for which wage data are available. It should be emphasized that the data set is characterized by a high heterogeneity with regard to the trades covered, the length of the data series and the data density. For the construction of a time series of the skills premium at the level of Germany as a whole, the data are averaged over centered five-year periods (1483-1487, 1488-1482, .... 1883-1887) due to the low data density - there are on average only about three observations per year. The skill premium is then first calculated individually for each city and each five-year period for which data are available for both skilled and unskilled construction workers; a total of 393 data points are thus obtained. In a second step, an unbalanced panel regression with fixed effects for the cities and the five-year periods is estimated using feasible GLS, with the error variants partitioned by time periods (for details, see Pfister 2019, 218). A time series can be calculated on the basis of the regression coefficients for the five-year periods; it was scaled with the mean skill premium in the period 1773-1778. This is because the data density is highest in this period, as data are available for ten cities. The result is shown in Pfister (2019, 228, Figure 4) and made available here in Table A-01. 2. wages of agricultural workers (Table A-02) Wage data in agriculture are usually quoted as daily wages. They differ according to the type of activity and whether the agricultural worker receives food and accommodation or not. In the study only such wages without provision of food and accommodation are taken into account. The monetary amounts are standardized to Marks per day. The study uses the account books of a large aristocracy possession, the results of surveys carried out in connection with land reform and the compilation of land tax registers, social statistical surveys and a re-analysis of the database by Neumann (1911) to construct a series of farmworkers´ wages for Westphalia for the period around 1730-1892. The individual data points are defined as follows: 1730-1810: Average daily wage on the Nordkirchen aristocratic estate, centered ten-year periods. Source: original source are the account books; collection of wage data and construction of a wage index in Bracht / Pfister (2019, Annex A3). 1818: Daily wage of men in Westphalia; average value for the three administrative districts for so-called domestic work. The values for the administrative districts are mean values of data at district level. Source: Kuczynski (1961, vol. 1, p. 361 f., 371); original source is a survey by the Prussian authorities. 1825-1845: Daily wage of men in Westphalia, centered five-year periods. Values for the entire Kingdom of Prussia were scaled to the level of Westphalia using the value for Westphalia in 1848/50 (see below). Source: Reanalysis of the Neumann database (2011); see Annex 2. 1848/50: Daily wages of men in Westphalia, mean value of wages for harvesting work and for other work, average of the data for the three administrative districts. Source: Meitzen (1866, 91). 1861/65: Daily wages of men in Westphalia, total average above minimum and maximum wages for harvest work, other work in summer and winter as well as across the three administrative districts. Source: Meitzen (1866, 92-114). 1868: Day wage of men in Westphalia. Source: Meitzen: Hamann (1945, 200). 1873: Daily wages of men in Westphalia; working conditions in which food is not provided at the workplace (or: inclusion of food in the wage rate). Overall average of summer and winter wages, permanent and temporary workers and across the three administrative districts. Source: von der Goltz (1875: 48-53). 1885: Daily wage of men in Westphalia, average of 81 counties. Source: Schmitz (1886, 26-29). At least for Westphalia the values seem too low; for a critique of this source see Kattwinkel (1912, 2-5). 1892: Daily wages of men in Westphalia; working conditions in which food is not provided at the workplace (or: inclusion of food in the wage rate). Overall average of summer and winter wages, permanent and temporary workers and across the three administrative districts. Source: Kärger et al. (1892, vol. 1: 225-34). For further information on farm workers´ wages, especially on the merging of these sources in the first half of the 19th century, see Pfister (2019, 219-222). 3. nominal wage index and consumer goods price index, 1500-1913 (Table A-03) The table contains the rows underlying Figure 1 in Pfister (2019, 213). They were constructed as follows: The nominal wage index combines the following three series, which were linked in 1850 and 1888, respectively: 1500-1850 Daily wage of unskilled workers in 18 towns from Pfister (2017, Appendix S3, GESIS ZA8636, Table A-03-02) 1850-1888 Annual wages in industry and trade from Pfister (2018, Annex A3, GESIS ZA8710) 1888-1913 Annual wages in industry and trade from Hoffmann (1965, Table II/104, pp. 468-471) The consumer goods price index combines the following three series, which were linked in 1850 and 1888 respectively: 1500-1850 Annual cost of a consumer basket in grams of silver from Pfister (2017, Appendix S3, GESIS ZA8636, Table A-03-02) 1850-1888 Consumer goods price index from Pfister (2018, Annex A3, GESIS ZA8710) 1888-1913 Consumer goods price index from Orsagh (1969, 481) Table A-03 also contains a real wage index, which simply represents the quotient of the nominal wage index and the consumer goods price index. The following data series are included in this study: A.01 skill premium in urban construction, 1485-1885. A.02 Daily wage for agricultural workers in Nordkirchen and Westphalia, 1730-1892. A.03 Nominal wage, consumer price index and real wage (indices 1913=100, aggregated indices), 1500-1913. Note: Studies closely related to this study are: ZA8636: Pfister, U., Nominal Wages and Consumer Goods Prices in 18 German Cities, 1500-1850. ZA8710: Pfister, U., Wages and Prices of Consumer Goods in Germany, 1850 to 1889.
1485-01-01 / 1913-12-31
German Reich (1871-1945) (DXDE)German Reich
Number of Variables:
- ZA8709 (Type: ZA-No.)
Ulrich Pfister (2019), The Inequality of Pay in Pre-modern Germany, Late 15th Century to 1889. In: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 2019; 60(1): 209–243. https://doi.org/10.1515/jbwg-2019-0009
Update Metadata: 2021-04-07 | Issue Number: 15 | Registration Date: 2019-08-06