Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-Term Patterns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wage rates in Japan, India, and China were lower than their counterparts in Europe when the wages are compared at the exchange rates implied by the silver contents of coins. The cost of living was also lower in Asia than in Europe. The purchasing power of Asian wages was similar to that of wages in France, Italy, and Germany but less than the purchasing power of wages in the leading economies- England and the Netherlands. Real wage comparisons contradict the opinions of Smith, Malthus, and Marx that Europe was more prosperous than Asia before the industrial revolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLiving Standards in the Past
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199280681
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005


  • Akbar
  • China
  • England
  • India
  • Japan
  • Real wage
  • Silver wage
  • Standard of living
  • Subsistence wage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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