After the Famine, Irish wages caught up to those of Great Britain. Catch-up is ascribed to globalised labour markets and the effects of emigration. However current estimates of the level of Irish wages and their rate of growth are based on a small sample of the male workforce. This article presents estimates of the average wage for all wage earners and the Irish wage bill. This enables an estimate of an (implied) British average wage and wage bill. The new estimates show that although there was significant wage catch-up in a few occupations, in general catch-up was less rapid than recent studies have suggested. The origins of this catch-up are also examined. Consistent with earlier studies which emphasise modernisation of the post-Famine economy, the evidence of this article is consistent with the effects of traditional convergence forces such as TFP growth, capital accumulation and structural change operating alongside the effects of emigration.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Cambridge Journal of Economics following peer review. The version of record Begley, J. , Geary, F. and Stark, T. (2014) Convergence in the pre-1914 Atlantic economy: what really happened to wages in Ireland between 1881 and 1911?. Cambridge Journal of Economics, volume 40 (1): 43-67 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/beu063
- Average wages
- Wage bill
- Labour demand