Real Wages in Germany between 1871 and 1913

Resource Type
Dataset : Survey and aggregate data
  • Desai, Ashok V.
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • Abstract

    The analysis of real wages has a long tradition in Germany. The focus of the acquisition is on company wages, on wages of certain branches or for categories of workers as well as on the investigation of long term aggregated nominal and real wages. The study of Ashok V. Desai on the development of real wages in the German Reich between 1871 and 1913 is an important contribution to historical research on wages. The study is innovative and methodically on an exemplary level. But mainly responsible for the upswing in the historical research on wages in the 50s and 60s is an extraordinary publication by Jürgen Kuczynski. “The new historical research on wages in Germany is insolubly connected with Jürgen Kuczynski. In his broad researches the history of wages is only one section among many other themes but it is a very important one can be seen as the core piece of his work.” (Kaufhold, K.H., 1987: Forschungen zur deutschen Preis- und Lohngeschichte (seit 1930). In: Historia Socialis et Oeconomica. Festschrift für Wolfgang Zorn zum 65. Geburtstag. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, S, 83). In his first study on long series on nominal and real wages in Germany he used a broad empirical basis and encouraged more research in this area. His weaknesses are methodological inconsistencies and a restricted representativeness. For example he includes tariff wages but also actually paid wages. Some important industries like food or textile industry are not taken into account. Wages in agriculture were often estimated but without enough material necessary for a good estimation. Wages for work at home are not regraded in the calculation of the index. The weight of cities in the calculation of the index is relatively too high compared to rural regions and therefor it leaks regional representativeness. In his study Desai uses the reports of trade associations for the Reich´s insurance office on the persons who are insured in the accident insurance and their wages as a basis for the calculation of annual nominal average wages. Desais focusses on industrial wages because only for them long term series are available. As the insurance premiums are calculated according to the income level the documents of the trade associations can be used for the calculation of an index for wages development. Desais study is also very useful regarding the calculation of a new index for costs of living based the model of a typical worker family. „F. Grumbach and H. König have used the same sources to derive indices of industrial earnings. The main differences between their series and ours are: (a) we have adopted the industrial classification followed by the Reichsversicherungsamt, while Grumbach and König have made larger industrial groups, (b) we have calculated average annual earnings, while they claim to have calculated average daily earnings (i.e. to have adjusted the annual figures for the average number of days worked per year per worker), and (c) they have failed to correct distortions in the original data” (Desai, A.V., 1968: Real Wages in Germany 1871–1913. Oxford. Clarendon Press, S. 4). Register of tables in HISTAT: A. Overviews A.1 Overview: Different estimations of the real and nominal gross wages in the German Reich, index 1913 = 100 (1871-1913) A.2 Overview: Development of costs of living, index 1913 = 100 (1871-1913) A.3 Overview: Development of nominal and real wages, index 1913=100 (1844-1937) D. Study by Ashok V. Desai D.01 Different estimations of real wages in the German Reich, index 1895 = 100 (1871-1913) D.02 Annual average wage (1871-1886) D.03 Annual gross wages in chosen production segments (1887-1913) D.04 Annual average wage in industry, transportation and trade (1871-1913) D.05 Construction of an index for costs of living, 1895 = 100 (1871-1913) D.06 Real wages, in constant prices from 1895 (1871-1913) D.07 Wheat prices and prices for wheat bread (1872-1913) D.08 Rye prices and prices for rye bread (1872-1913) D.09 Average export prices by product groups, index 1895 = 100 (1872-1913) D.10 Average import prices by product groups, index 1895 = 100 (1872-1913) D.11 Average export prices, import prices and terms of trade, index 1895 = 100 (1872-1913) O. Study by Thomas J. Orsagh O. Adjusted indices for costs of living and real wages after Orsgah, index 1913 = 100 (1871-1913)
Temporal Coverage
  • 1871 / 1913
Geographic Coverage
  • German Reich (1871-1945) (DXDE)
Data and File Information
  • Unit Type: Text Unit
    Number of Units: 43
    Number of Variables: 143
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
All metadata from GESIS DBK are available free of restriction under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. However, GESIS requests that you actively acknowledge and give attribution to all metadata sources, such as the data providers and any data aggregators, including GESIS. For further information see
Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8216 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Desai, Ashok V.: Real Wages in Germany 1871 – 1913. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1968.

Update Metadata: 2021-04-07 | Issue Number: 86 | Registration Date: 2010-07-23