Real wages since 1820

when 2014
who Pim de Zwart
Bas van Leeuwen
Li Jieli
what chapter Real wages since 1820
what book How was life?: Global well-being since 1820
publisher OECD Publishing
where 巴黎
language 英文

involved project member(s)

Bas van Leeuwen Li Jieli

Book Description

How was life in 1820, and how has it improved since then? What are the long-term trends in global well-being? Views on social progress since the Industrial Revolution are largely based on historical national accounting in the tradition of Kuznets and Maddison. But trends in real GDP per capita may not fully re­flect changes in other dimensions of well-being such as life expectancy, education, personal security or gender inequality. Looking at these indicators usually reveals a more equal world than the picture given by incomes alone, but has this always been the case? The new report How Was Life? aims to fill this gap. It presents the first systematic evidence on long-term trends in global well-being since 1820 for 25 major countries and 8 regions in the world covering more than 80% of the world’s population. It not only shows the data but also discusses the underlying sources and their limitations, pays attention to country averages and inequality, and pinpoints avenues for further research.

The How Was Life? report is the product of collaboration between the OECD, the OECD Development Centre and the CLIO-INFRA project. It represents the culmination of work by a group of economic historians to systematically chart long-term changes in the dimensions of global well-being and inequality, making use of the most recent research carried out within the discipline. The historical evidence reviewed in the report is organised around 10 different dimensions of well-being that mirror those used by the OECD in its well-being report How’s Life? (, and draw on the best sources and expertise currently available for historical perspectives in this field. These dimensions are:per capita GDP, real wages, educational attainment, life expectancy, height, personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, income inequality and gender inequality.

Book Contents

Preface  13
Acknowledgments 15
Readers’ Guide 17
Executive summary 19
Chapter 1. Global well-being since 1820 by Jan Luiten van Zanden, Joerg Baten, Marco Mira d’Ercole, Auke Rijpma, Conal Smith and Marcel Timmer 23
-Introduction 24
-Aim of this study 25
-Overview of indicators covered 27
-Data quality 29
Practical issues regarding country coverage 30
-Main highlights 31
-References 36
Chapter 2. Demographic trends since 1820 by Lotte van der Vleuten and Jan Kok 37
-Introduction 38
-Data quality 38
-World population 1820-2000: trends and trajectories 41
-Demographic transitions 46
-Implications of demographic change  51
-Priorities for future research 53
-References 53
Chapter 3. GDP per capita since 1820 by Jutta Bolt, Marcel Timmer and Jan Luiten van Zanden 57
-Introduction 58
-Description of the concepts used 58
-Historical sources 59
-Data quality 61
-Main highlights of GDP trends since 1820 64
-Priorities for future research 71
-References 72
Chapter 4. Real wages since 1820 by Pim de Zwart, Bas van Leeuwen and Jieli van Leeuwen-Li  73
-Introduction 74
-Description of the concepts used 75
-Historical sources 76
-Data quality 77
-Main highlights of wage trends 79
-Correlation with GDP per capita 83
-Priorities for future research 84
-References 85
Chapter 5. Education since 1820 by Bas van Leeuwen and Jieli van Leeuwen-Li 87
-Introduction 88
-Description of the concepts used 88
-Historical sources 89
-Data quality 91
-Main highlights of education trends  93
-Correlation with GDP per capita 97
-Priorities for future research 98
-References 98
Chapter 6. Life expectancy since 1820 by Richard L. Zijdema and Filipa Ribeiro de Silva 101
-Introduction 102
-Description of the concepts used 103
-Historical sources 104
-Data quality 104
-Main highlights of life expectancy trends 106
-Correlation with GDP per capita 110
-Priorities for future research  112
-References 114
Chapter 7. Human height since 1820 by Joerg Baten and Matthias Blum 117
-Introduction 118
-Description of the concepts used 119
-Historical sources 120
-Data quality 122
-Main highlights of human height trends 124
-Correlation with GDP per capita 128
-Priorities for future research 132
-References 134
Chapter 8. Personal security since 1820 by Joerg Baten, Winny Bierman, Peter Foldvari, and Jan Luiten van Zanden 139
-Introduction 140
-Description of the concepts used 141
-Historical sources 142
-Data quality 143
-Main highlights of trends in personal security 145
-Correlation with GDP per capita 154
-Priorities for future research 155
-References 157
Chapter 9. Political institutions since 1820 by Peter Foldvari and Katalin Buzasi 159
-Introduction 160
-Description of the concepts used 160
-Historical sources 162
-Data quality 163
-Main highlights of trends in political institutions 165
-Correlation with GDP per capita 173
-Priorities for future research 174
-References 176
Chapter 10. Environmental quality since 1820 by Kees Klein Goldewijk 179
-Introduction 180
-Description of the concepts used 181
-Historical sources 184
-Data quality 184
-Main highlights of trends in environmental quality 185
-Correlation with GDP per capita 194
-Priorities for future research 194
-References 196
Chapter 11. Income inequality since 1820 by 199
-Introduction 200
-Description of the concepts used 200
-Historical sources 202
-Data quality 204
-Main highlights of trends in income inequality  205
-Correlation with GDP per capita  210
-Priorities for future research 211
-References 212
Chapter 12. Gender inequality since 1820 by Sarah Carmichael, Selin Dilli and Auke Rijpma 217
-Introduction  218
-Description of the concepts used 220
-Historical sources 221
-Data quality  223
-Main highlights of trends in gender inequality  225
-Correlation with GDP per capita 239
-Priorities for future research 242
-References 245
Chapter 13. A composite view of well-being since 1820 by Auke Rijpma  249
-Introduction  250
-Description of the concepts used 254
-Main highlights of trends in composite indicators of human well-being 257
-Priorities for future research 267
-References 268

citation format

APA Van Leeuwen, B., & Jieli, L. (2014). Real wages since 1820. In J. Van Zanden, J. Baten, M. M. D’Ercole, A. Rijpma, C. Smith, & M. Timmer (Eds.), How Was Life?: Global Well-being since 1820 (pp. 73-86). Paris: OECD Publishing.