Seven Centuries of Unreal Wages: The Unreliable Data, Sources and Methods that have been used for Measuring Standards of Living in the Past

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The quality of life experienced by people in the past is one of the most important areas of historical enquiry, and the standard of living of populations is one of the leading measures of the economic performance of nations. Yet how accurate is the information on which these judgments are based? This collection of essays, written by renowned scholars in the fields of labour, wage and welfare history, cogently undermine the validity of the data that have for decades dominated the measurement of these phenomena in Britain, Europe and Asia, and provided the statistical backbone for countless descriptions and analyses of economic development, welfare and many other prime subjects in economic and social history. The contributors to this volume rigorously expose misapprehensions of long-run macroeconomic estimates of the real wage and provide a host of improved methods and data for revising and rejecting them. This volume is essential reading for anyone interested in economic and social history, economics and the application of statistical methods to historical evidence.