DP14651 Working for a Living? Women and Children's Labour Inputs in England, 1260-1850

Author(s): Sara Horrell, Jane Humphries, Jacob Weisdorf
Publication Date: April 2020
Keyword(s): Child labour, Consumption Smoothing, Costs-of-Living, Dependency Ratio, Life Cycle, living standards, Poor Relief, prices, wages
JEL(s): J22, N13, O10
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14651

We consider the living standards, supplies of child-labour, and poor-relief needs among intact and broken working-class families of various sizes in historical England. We estimate family incomes without resort to the usual day wages and ahistorical assumptions about male labour inputs. We also incorporate women and children's wages and labour alongside consumption smoothing using a life-cycle approach. Living standards varied considerably over time and by family structure and dependency ratio. Small and intact families enjoyed high and rising living standards after 1700. Large and broken families depended on child labour and poor relief up until 1830.