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Living Standards in the PastNew Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe$
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Robert C. Allen, Tommy Bengtsson, and Martin Dribe

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199280681.001.0001

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Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-Term Patterns

Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-Term Patterns

(p.111) 5 Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-Term Patterns
Living Standards in the Past

Robert C. Allen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wage rates in Japan, India, and China were lower than their counterparts in Europe when the wages are compared at the exchange rates implied by the silver contents of coins. The cost of living was also lower in Asia than in Europe. The purchasing power of Asian wages was similar to that of wages in France, Italy, and Germany but less than the purchasing power of wages in the leading economies—England and the Netherlands. Real wage comparisons contradict the opinions of Smith, Malthus, and Marx that Europe was more prosperous than Asia before the industrial revolution.

Keywords:   Akbar, China, England, India, Japan, Real wage, silver wage, standard of living, subsistence wage

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