The Price Of Time And Labour Supply: From The Black Death To The Industrious Revolution

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Executive Summary

In pre-industrial economies labour supply curves often bend backwards at very low levels of income. This changed prior to the industrial revolution: total working hours increased (De Vries (1993, Voth (1998, 2000). This paper examines this industrious revolution using a model of labour supply where consumption takes time. This analytical framework enables one to draw a distinction between a pessimistic account of the industrious revolution as suggested by Van Zanden (2006) and an optimistic account advanced by de Vries (2008) of an industrious revolution driven by changing patterns of demand. This formulation clarifies the importance of new consumption opportunities in driving hours worked.

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