DP16847 Before the Dawn: English Medieval Living Standards and Economic Growth 1200-1800
|Author(s):||Gregory Clark, Maximilian P McComb|
|Publication Date:||December 2021|
|Date Revised:||January 2022|
|Keyword(s):||Economic Growth, living standards, work days|
|Programme Areas:||Economic History, Macroeconomics and Growth|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16847|
If pre-industrial England was a Malthusian society, we should observe trendless living standards before 1800. Recent studies have claimed major gains in living standards 1270-1800 in northwest Europe, including England, implying the Malthusian era there had ended before 1350. Here we refute the claims that medieval English living standards were significantly lower than in 1800 using a variety of new metrics: the high value of food consumed per day when workers were fed at work, the high animal product share of the medieval diet, human heights, housing quality, and factor shares in agriculture. These measures all show the continued viability of the Malthusian interpretation: the medieval world was often richer than England of 1800.