Project Participants

New Lessons from Historical Labor Markets: Using a unique Danish data source to answer key questions in economics (Historical Labor Markets)


This project will use data on eighteenth century labor markets in order to investigate a number of key debates in economics. These data were gathered by the Danish Price History Project between 1939 and 2004 and are uniquely detailed in a world context. We will use them to construct real wage series for Denmark, to investigate the significance of the institution of serfdom from 1728-1800, to look for evidence of increased working hours in the run up to modern economic growth, and to test for the ‘Malthusian’ relationship between demographics and living standards. We expect to find that serfdom had a significant impact on rural labor markets, in particular by keeping the skill premium high by lowering the price of unskilled labor, and possibly impacting on labor supply. This feeds into a couple of key debates in economics: the importance of (bad) institutions and demography for development, and the presence or otherwise of an ‘industrious revolution’.


Public (National)


Danmarks frie forskningsfond

Collaborative partners:

University of Southern Denmark



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