Europe went through a period of astonishing [economic] growth after about 1760….
We know that the Industrial Revolution made Europe rich. …
Historians are divided over what happened to wages during the Industrial Revolution. Everyone agrees that they did increase; the question is, when.
Research focuses on real wages—wages that are adjusted for inflation. Getting data on wages is tricky. But accounting for inflation is even harder. (For example, workers often paid rent informally, meaning that there are few records around).
And so it is unsurprising that researchers differ in their estimations of real wages. Some, such as Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson, suggest that full-time earnings for British common labourers, adjusted for inflation, more than doubled in the seventy years after 1780. But Charles Feinstein argued that over the same period, British real wages only increased by around 30%. It’s a bit of a … mess.
Most people agree that after about 1840, real wages did better. Nicholas Crafts and Terence Mills shows that from 1840 to 1910, real wages more than doubled. Their findings are mirrored by other researchers ….
in almost all British cities, mortality conditions in the 1860s were no better—and were often worse—than in the 1850s. In Liverpool in the 1860s, the life expectancy fell to an astonishing 25 years. It was not until the two subsequent decades that rises in life expectancy were found