Munich Personal RePEc Archive

1381 and the Malthus Delusion

Clark, Gregory (2010): 1381 and the Malthus Delusion.


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What were income trends before the Industrial Revolution? Clark (2007b) argued on both theoretical and empirical grounds that pre-industrial income was fluctuating but trendless, a position Gunner Persson has labeled “the Malthus Delusion.” Steve Broadberry and Bruce Campbell, in support of the Persson position, have recently estimated that English per capita income grew more than three-fold between 1270 and 1800. Here I use the Poll Tax returns to estimate income in 1379-81 from the farming share of employment. England in 1381, with only 55 percent of the population engaged in farming, was at income levels close to those of 1817.

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