CFP - Wages formation and determination in the pre-industrial period and beyond (Deadline 30th September 2021)

Giulio Ongaro's picture
Call for Papers
July 25, 2022 to July 29, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, Economic History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Rural History / Studies, Urban History / Studies

WEHC – Paris 2022

Session: “Wages formation and determination in the pre-industrial period and beyond”



Luca Mocarelli (University of Milan – Bicocca)

Giulio Ongaro (University of Milan – Bicocca)

Judy Stephenson (UCL)


We welcome paper proposals for the session “Wages formation and determination in the pre-industrial period and beyond”, that will take place in the XIXth World Economic History Conference (Paris, 25-30 July 2022).

The analysis of wages and wages’ series has been at the basis of economic and social history debates at least since the beginning of the past century; the understanding of the trends and of the composition of people’s wages – especially real wages – meant the possibility to investigate labour relations, demographic dynamics, the purchase power of population, up to broader considerations on the relationship between high (or low)-wage economies and the process of industrialization (Allen 2001; 2009; 2015; Malanima 2013).

However, according also to the recent publications (Hatcher and Stephenson 2018), in their analysis economic historians focused mainly on male daily wage paid in cash. This means that the recorded wages are more likely only a part – and maybe a small part – of the worker’ remuneration; «sub-contracting, piece rates, bonuses, non-pecuniary rewards and supplements, by-employments, seasonal variations in the availability of work and the wages received for it» (Hatcher and Stephenson 2018, p. 4) are merely disregarded. More, almost exclusively urban wages have been taken into account, and we completely ignore the composition and the level of rural ones – although the most part of the population lived and worked in the countryside.

In summary, the nature and the structure of wages have been increasingly in the spotlight, and this also led to some attempts to reconstruct alternative time series, taking into account for example in-kind compensations (Drelichman and González Agudo 2020); however, many of the starting points arose from the recent debate on wages need further investigations, both on specific case studies – i.e., on specific geographical and chronological contexts – and in comparative ways. Specifically, the proposed session aims at gathering papers dealing with one or several of the following topics:

  • The role of in-kind and monetary payments, bonuses and supplements in the formation of remunerations;
  • The relationship between work contracts (annual, piece work, time work or task work) and the determination of wages;
  • Just skilled and unskilled workers? The variety of wages in pre-industrial societies in relation with the characteristics of the workers;
  • Wages in a diachronic and comparative perspective: how wages’ structure and composition changes across times and spaces (both in terms of geographical areas and urban-rural environments).

Please send your proposal as an abstract of 200 words and a short CV (1 page) to the session organizers (;; Deadline for submitting proposals is the November 30th, 2021.



Allen, R. C. (2001), “The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the Fist World War”, Explorations in Economic History, 38, pp. 411-447

Allen, R. C. (2009), The British Industrial Revolution in a Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Allen, R. C. (2015), “The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement”, Economic History Review, 68, pp. 1-22

Drelichman, M. and González Agudo, D. (2020), “The Gender Wage Gap in Early Modern Toledo, 1550-1650”, The Journal of Economic History, 80/2, pp. 351-385

Hatcher, J. and Stephenson, J. Z. (eds.) (2018), Seven Centuries of Unreal Wages. The Unreliable Data, Sources and Methods that have been used for Measuring Standards of Living in the Past. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Malanima, P. (2013), “When did England overtake Italy? Medieval and early modern divergence in prices and wages”, European Review of Economic History, 17, pp. 45-70


Contact Info: 

Giulio Ongaro - Researcher in Economic History (University of Milano-Bicocca)


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