World Economic History
World Economic History ECN 110B
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ECN 110B Spring 2005 6 The Social Consequences of the Industrial Revolution Winners and Loser from the Industrial Revolution The enormous expansion of output since the Industrial Revolution came from the increased production of knowledge Yet stunningly the bene ts of that growth have gone disproportionately to unskilled labor The innovators the owners of capital the owners of land and the owners of human capital have all experienced modest gains or no gain at all from knowledge advances Unskilled workers and in particular female unskilled workers have seen enormous bene ts But while growth so far has been benign there is no guarantee that it will continue to promote equality within high income societies In the near future we may face the gloomy dystopia feared by many writers where the wages of unskilled labor drop below the socially determined subsistence wage and societies are forced to support permanently a large fraction of the population To see why unskilled labor got the bulk of the gains note that the growth rate of measured efficiency gA the key to modern growth has to show up in gains to the incomes of one or more of the factors that contributes to production capital human capital unskilled labor and land Formally an equivalent expression to the fundamental equation of growth is gA aKaHgrp bgwp agsp 1 Where rp is the real rental of capital which is the real interest rate wp is the real wage for unskilled labor and sp is the real rental value of land What this says is that the gains of a 1 efficiency advance have to show up on average in gains in real incomes for the factors that cooperate in production of 1 also since aK 61 b c b in this case is the share ofthe economy paid as wages for unskilled labor rather than the entire labor share in national income which would be 61 b Modern growth has been driven by people creating knowledge In general the creators of that knowledge have not gained much of the bene ts It has spilled out rewarding the other factors that cooperate in production In general the final incident of the benefits of technological advance could be either mostly with land mostly with capital or mostly with unskilled labor depending on the elasticity of supply of these factors and the way technological advance has in uenced demand for each factor Since the Industrial Revolution none of the gains to income from efficiency advance have gone to capital owners The real rental of capital net depreciation is just the real interest rate But we saw in figures 1 and 2 of chapter 7 the real interest rate has if anything declined since the Industrial Revolution Total payments to capital have expanded enormously since the Industrial Revolution but only because the stock of capital has grown hugely The stock of capital has been indefinitely expandable It has grown even faster than total incomes and its abundance has kept real returns per unit of capital low Since we expect the return to human capital to be in line with the returns to physical capital in a competitive economy the gains of skilled workers as we shall see have been similarly limited Ricardo the first economist to focus explicitly on the distribution of income writing at the outset of the Industrial Revolution in the England of 1817 foresaw a future in which land rents would increase relative to wages and to the return on capital as population increased 2 because land was the fixed factor in production But similarly to capital none of the efficiency gains have shown up as gains by the owners of farmland Figure 1 shows the real rent of farmland the nominal rent per acre divided by the average price of goods from the thirteenth century to 2002 Real land rents peaked in the midnineteenth century but have been in general decline since The rent of an acre of farmland in England thus currently only buys as much goods as it did in the 1760s This does not take into account changes in the value of urban land where it is much more difficult to get long term measures and where the implicit rental value may have risen by much greater amounts But even taking this into account the conclusion would remain that very little of the productivity growth since the Industrial Revolution was collected by land owners Given the fixed stock of land this result is surprising I consider below why it occurred Where we do find the gains from the Industrial Revolution is in the increase in real wages to the unskilled Wage payments as we saw include payments for the human capital embodied in workers through training and education The amount of such training and education has increased greatly since the Industrial Revolution so that some of the overall wage gains are really just another form of return to capital But even if we look at the earnings of the least skilled workers building laborers or agricultural laborers those with very little human capital there have been tremendous gains since the Industrial Revolution Figure 2 shows the real wages per hour for building workers in England from 1200 to 2000 The enormous gains even for these unskilled workers are very evident The evidence that the gains went more to unskilled labor than to human capital is the premium paid for skilled workers This we can calculate for the building industry all the way from 1200 to 2000 Figure 3 shows this premium In the earliest years this premium is more than 100 By the time of the Industrial Revolution it had already fallen to about 60 Then in 3 the twentieth century there were further declines in the skill premium to only about 25 by 2000 A simple interpretation of this declining skill premium is that it is the result of the declining return to capital Thus suppose as a simpli ed example workers worked only for two periods They can either get no training in which case their wage in both periods is wu or they can train in the rst period and get a higher skilled wage wS in the second period If r is the discount factor for wages in the second period then the relationship between the skilled and unskilled wage in order for investing in human capital to be just worth while has to be w w wu 0 S lr lr WS 3 2r w Another trend that is not apparent in the male wage series we have used is the narrowing gap between men s and women s wages In the preindustrial era women s wages seem to have averaged less than half those of men even for unskilled occupations Thus for eld laborers in agriculture women s wages in England in 17701860 averaged only 4045 those of men In contrast by 2004 the average hourly wage of unskilled women in the UK was 84 that of unskilled men The low wages of unskilled women laborers in the preindustrial era probably did not re ect discrimination against women once they entered the labor market though there was undoubtedly discrimination in training people for skilled occupations Preindustrial societies seem to have had little dif culty in hiring women as brute laborers From the earliest years in societies such as England women show up in basic agricultural work and where they had a comparative advantage such as in reaping they were widely employed The low average pay for women seems instead to have re ected the premium attached to physical strength in a world where much human labor supplied brute strength In a world where men and donkeys were relatively close substitutes women were at a disadvantage The Industrial Revolution which rst replaced human labor in its most brutish aspects thus was an instrument of liberation for women In some occupations in cotton textiles women for the rst time were employed at wages equal to those of men By reducing the gap in earnings between men and women the Industrial Revolution again narrowed overall inequality in modern societies The fact that the growth of returns to capital and land has been 0 implied that for the advanced economies since the Industrial Revolution equation 1 reduces to Since the share of income paid to unskilled labor is perhaps 05 in modern economies this implies that we can measure productivity growth since the Industrial Revolution by just taking it as half the growth rate of the real wage of unskilled labor The Industrial Revolution by disproportionately favoring unskilled labor probably reduced income inequality within the revolutionized economies In all societies the ownership of capital and land tends to be highly unequal with a large share of the population possessing no marketable wealth Table l for example shows the distribution of wage income in the UK in 2004 for full time workers compared to the distribution of marketable wealth Despite the much greater importance of human capital in modern societies than in earlier economies the distribution of wages is still much more equal than is the distribution of the ownership of capital The lowest paid decile still gets about 40 of the average wage and the highest paid decile gets less than three times the average wage With wealth the poorest decile has none while the richest decile has five times the average wealth per person Had the gains of the Industrial Revolution gone equally to asset owners including human capital as to unskilled labor then income inequality would have steadily increased since 1800 But the bene ts went disproportionately to the one income source that every citizen has an equal allocation of and the one income source that people cannot alienate So instead the general trend since 1800 only reversed in the last twenty years has been towards greater equality of income in Industrial Society Table 2 shows one measure of the income distribution which is the annual wage of unskilled labor relative to average income per adult In the 1770s a male agricultural laborer earned 70 of the average income per capita for adults and a female farm worker only 31 By 2004 unskilled male laborers in the UK were earning 72 of average adult income while unskilled women had climbed to 53 Why did land not get the gains Given that we had an Industrial Revolution that improved first the productivity of the industrial sector relative to the agricultural why did land owners not bene t hugely from an increased scarcity of land as population and incomes rose rapidly after 1800 as Ricardo imagined The reasons that land after some initial gains early in the Industrial Revolution saw declines in real returns are threefold a The income elasticity of the demand for many products intensive in land has been relatively low Thus the number of calories consumed per day by modern high income consumers is lower than for workers before the Industrial Revolution because a major determinant of calorie consumption is the amount of physical labor people undertake In the pre industrial era people supplied a lot of the power in production whether as farm laborers digging hauling and threshing or as wood hewers brick makers metal formers and porters In our society not only do we have machines to perform all these tasks we also have machines to move us from house to coffee shop to the doors of our work places Within these work places machines haul us up and down between oors Thus despite our very high incomes and relatively large stature the average male in the modern USA consumed only about 2700 kcal per day and still many have gained substantial amounts of weight In the 1860s male farm workers in some areas of Britain generally smaller and lighter than modern US males consumed 4500 kcal per day They consumed this much because they engaged in physical labor 10 hours a day for 300 days per year Thus as incomes expanded the demand for land in production expanded much less than proportionately b There has been enormous growth in the productivity of agriculture specifically in land saving technologies so that despite the fixed factor land farm output has risen faster than population c The mining of fossil fuels coal and oil principally has provided the energy to modern societies that agriculture used to be a major provider of By mining the energy produced by the land over eons and stored in the ground for the ages our society has temporarily at least expanded the land supply by enormous amounts By the 1860s in England for example farm outputs were worth 114 million per year Coal outputs by that date were 66 million per year so that energy from coal had already by then added a huge supplement to the output of the agricultural sector Why did technological advance not reduce the wages of unskilled labor 7 We think of the Industrial Revolution as practically synonymous with mechanization with the replacement of human labor by machine labor Why is there still in high income economies a robust demand for unskilled labor Why are there still unskilled immigrants with little command of English walking across the deserts of the US southwest to get to the labor markets of the major US cities because of the enormous rewards to their labor even as undocumented workers in these places Why were there people camped out for months and even years at the Channel Tunnel freight depot in northern France waiting for a chance to break through the security fence and onto a train for Britain Soon after the arrival of the Industrial Revolution the Machinery Question became a matter of debate among the new Political Economists What would happen to labor demand with new technologies Famously Ricardo who had initially defended the introduction of machinery as benefiting all by 1821 constructed a model in which some types of laborsaving machinery produce technological unemployment Ricardo s demonstration however relied on workers receiving a fixed subsistence wage and it was later appreciated that as long as there are sufficient substitution possibilities between capital and labor there will always be a positive marginal product for each type of labor and hence the possibility of full employment This general reassurance from economic reasoning is of little practical value however since it offers no assurance on what the actual level of wages will be Why was it that there was not only a job for all unskilled workers but also a well paying job After all there was a large class of employees at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution whose jobs and livelihoods largely vanished by the early twentieth century This was the horse In 1800 it is believed ll5 million horses were at work in England They ploughed fields they hauled wagons and carriages on roads the pulled boats on the canals they toiled in the pits and they drove machinery they carried armies into battle But steam railways and canal boats replaced them in 8 haulage stationary steam engines drove machinery and steam ploughs even emerged in agriculture Finally with the arrival of the internal combustion engine in the late nineteenth century they were replaced even for transporting goods short distances There was always a wage at which all these horses could have remained in employment But that wage was so low that it did not pay their feed and certainly did not pay to breed fresh generations of horses to replace them Horses were thus an early casualty of industrialization Many tasks performed by people seemed as replaceable as those of horses And a number of human tasks were quickly mechanized Threshing grains the staple winter occupation which absorbed as much as a quarter of agricultural labor input was mechanized by the 1860s Reaping and mowing followed in the later nineteenth century But the grim future of a largely unemployable unskilled labor force has not resulted Instead the earnings of these unskilled workers as evidenced in figure 3 has risen relative to that of the skilled Two things seem to explain the relatively high value to the economy of even unskilled labor The first is that unlike horses people have attributes that machines so far cannot replace or can only replace at too high a cost The first of these is that people supply not just power but also dexterity We are very good at locating objects and moving them to new locations and machines are still surprisingly poor at these tasks Thus the fast food industry that feeds legions of Americans every day a highly standardized product does so using human labor still to bring the meat to heat and singed esh to bun Houses and hotel rooms are still cleaned by people gardens are still weeded by human gardeners People guide trucks and cars on highways and they guide powered tools in farming mining and construction Supermarkets contain thousands of standardized packages of product but they are still placed on the shelves by people and priced and bundled at checkout by people Recently there have been attempts to develop services where customers order groceries on the web and have then delivered to their homes 9 Some purveyors invested in large custom designed automated warehouses where machines assembled the order from the already encoded instructions of the customer and packed them in containers These attempts were unsuccessful however and the surviving online grocery purveyors combine high tech ordering of the groceries with unskilled workers who pick the goods from the shelves and pack them in containers Ironically computers have found it much easier to replace what we think of as the higher cognitive functions of humans 7 calculating amounts due calculating engineering stresses taking integrals 7 than they have to replace the simple skills we think of even the most unleamed as possessing The second difficult to replace ability of people is our ability to interact with other people We have a social intelligence that alerts us at least in some part to the thoughts and moods of others and that ability can be very valuable in modern commerce The increasing returns to scale inherent in most modern production processes implies that for the typical transaction the price p is much greater than the marginal cost mc of the good sold That means that unlike in competitive markets such as that for wheat in the preindustrial world where for each good p mc the producers have an incentive to spend resources in trying to sell more product in trying to get customers to choose your product rather than the near identical product of your competitor Selling is a huge part of modern economies and on the front lines in that war of commerce people are still very useful foot soldiers A pleasant interaction with the seller can make customers choose to eat in this restaurant as opposed to that shop here as opposed to there Customer service agents in call centers are thus now guided by computers through a decision tree that direct them as to how to interact with customers They are not called upon to exercise much judgment or discretion they are just the human face of a planned strategy of interaction but a face that is still very much necessary 10 The past in this however is no reliable guide to the future As long as computer processing power keeps becoming cheaper the threat will always be present that these last scarce attributes of even unskilled human labor will lose their value Then truly there will be a class of displaced workers forced for their subsistence to look to the charity of their fellow citizens While these attributes of the human machine are hard to replace the other big change since the Industrial Revolution that has kept unskilled wages high has been the unexpected curtailment in the supply of people in the most rapidly growing economies We saw for the Malthusian era in England that the evidence is that the more income and assets people had at the time of their death the more surviving children they had Economic success and reproductive success went hand in hand If this pattern had continued to the present population would have grown enormously and the Ricardian dystopia where growth is eventually curtailed by the constraint of the fixed area of land would have been closer to realization Below I consider these demographic changes in detail Fertility since the Industrial Revolution Demography mattered crucially to living standards in the Malthusian era because the fixed factor land was an important share of national income so that any increase in population had a powerful effect on living standards After the Industrial Revolution as the share of land and natural resources in national income has dropped to insignificance for the industrialized world demography would seemingly be a minor cause of the surprising shift of income to unskilled labor Only in the poorest countries as in subSaharan Africa and in those with large natural resource endowments would population levels be important determinants of income But the small share of land in national income is plausibly the result of the fact that the income gains of the Industrial Revolution ceased to get translated into more surviving children 11 and instead went into material consumption Demography is now unimportant in such societies as England or the USA because of important demographic shifts Figure 4 shows the course of the transition to lower fertility in England The gure shows two measures of fertility The first is the gross reproduction rate GRR the number of daughters born per woman who lived to 50 by decade The average women gave birth to nearly 5 children all the way from the 1540s to the 1890s Since in England 1020 of each female cohort remained celibate for married women the average number of births was close to 6 The demographic transition to modern fertility rates began only in the 1890s By 2000 English women gave birth on average to less than 2 children The second measure of fertility is the Net Reproduction Rate NRR the number of daughters per woman who lived to childbearing years themselves This fell much less Indeed for the average preindustrial society the NRR would be much closer to 1 than in prosperous preindustrial England in the years 1540 1800 So the decline in NRR with the arrival of the modern world has been minimal Note that the GRR and NRR both rose in the era of the classic Industrial Revolution in England whose onset is generally taken as in the 1760s This accounts for the relatively high population density of Britain compared to other European countries such as France and Spain What triggered the switch to the modern equilibrium with few children despite high incomes The first possibility is the general rise of incomes The decline in fertility is clearly correlated with income both if we look across societies and if we look at particular societies over time This fact has led some economists such as Gary Becker to posit that the driving force in declining fertility was just the great gain in incomes since the Industrial Revolution But if people have fewer children as incomes rise it implies that children in economic terms are inferior goods in the same category of goods such as potatoes Why do people want more housing space more cars and more clothes as they get richer but not more children Gary I2 Becker has argued that the demand for children can be analyzed as for any commodity as long as we are careful to note that there are two constraints on consumption The rst is the budget constraint how much a person has to spend The second is the time constraint there are only 24 hours in each day with which to consume things Thus as incomes rise and the budget constraint relaxes the time constraint on consumption becomes all the more important Richer consumers will thus tend to switch consumption away from time intensive activities and towards goods that use less time Thus as people get richer they tend to buy many time saving services such as prepared foods or restaurant meals Children as a consumption item are time intensive in the extreme Thus higher income consumers have switched consumption away from children to goods that use less time expensive homes fancy cars nice clothes Further Becker argues the way to measure the amount of child services parents consume is not just by counting the number of children Parents can invest more or less quality in each child As time gets more expensive for parents they choose to have fewer children but children that they invest more in so that they provide more ow of services to the parents This would imply the demographic transition was merely an echo of the Industrial Revolution and inevitable consequence of rising incomes Figure 2 for example which shows the hourly real wage of building workers in England from 1200 to 2000 reveals that real income gains were actually modest in the classic Industrial Revolution period Only after the 1860s did real wages begin to rise rapidly And only after the 1860s did fertility decline substantially In the modern world there is a strong negative fertilityincome relationship across countries We also see in late nineteenth century England during the demographic transition a negative association between higher social class a proxy for income and numbers of children Table 1 shows for 1891 1901 and 1911 the estimated of numbers of children present in households by the occupation of the male household head The numbers of children are unchanged from the 13 preindustrial era for the low income groups but have already fallen from these levels by 1891 for the professional classes In all the cross sections the high income group has lower gross fertility even as by 1911 the gross numbers of children begin to fall for the poorest groups The first problem with explaining the fertility transition through income is that all plausible models of population regulation for the preindustrial world depend on a positive association between NRR and income for some range of incomes Information on fertility compared to income is rare for the preindustrial world But chapter 7 showed how we can infer the connection in between fertility and income circa 1600 from wills of male testators in pre industrial England A man bequeathing less than 10 would typically leave two children while one bequeathing more than 500 four children Assets undoubtedly correlated with income predict survivors Thus in preindustrial England there was a positive association between income and net fertility over a wide range of incomes Those at the higher end of this range of incomes had real incomes easily as great as many people in the 1900s in England when income seems negatively associated with income This positive association between fertility and income seemingly becomes negative in the period of the demographic transition Further in modern high income low fertility societies there seems to be recently at least NO association between income and fertility A recent study of female fertility found on average no association between household income and fertility measured as the numbers of children present in the households of married women aged 3042 for both 1980 and 2000 for the siX countries Canada Finland Germany Sweden the UK and the USA Dickmann 2003 Table 2 This suggests that the incomefertility relationship within societies changed dramatically over time But note that in England around 1900 the only period with a clear negative relationship the fertility data is for gross fertility Given high child mortality rates in these years evident in figure 4 it may be that in all the cross sections there is no decline of net fertility with income 14 Thus the relationship between net fertility and income as we move from the preindustrial to the modern era seems as portrayed in gure 5 The very different behavior of the link between income and fertility in cross section in the preindustrial era the era of the fertility transition and recent years makes constructing a link between fertility and income alone challenging Modern societies have much better methods of fertility regulation than in the world before 1800 In particular oral contraceptives for women vasectomies for men better materials for barrier methods such as condoms and abortion methods that are physically safer for women and also decriminalized It is thus widely believed that the fertility decline is in part another direct result of technological advance This would imply that richer people in the preindustrial era typically ended up having more surviving children than they desired But if we look at figure 4 we see that most of the decline towards levels of gross fertility characteristic of modern developed economies was accomplished in England by the 1920s long before the Contraceptive Pill legalized abortion and vasectomies Using only abstinence withdrawal and less developed barrier methods technologies available in England at least as early as the seventeenth century birth rates for married women were reduced to less than half their previous levels This also happened in a social environment where birth control was rarely discussed in public forums Even more dramatically starting in the late eighteenth century the French reduced their fertility rates to equivalent to England in 1901 already by the 1850s Thus the possibility of controlling fertility seemingly existed long before the Demographic Transition Another possible explanation for the decline of fertility since the Industrial Revolution is the increased social status of women Plausibly the Industrial Revolution increased the relative earnings of women Most labor in the preindustrial world involved mainly the supply of power through human muscles Men have an advantage here Women s earnings in preindustrial agriculture in England were thus typically only 4060 those of men Clark 2003 But in the 15 modern world workers supply almost exclusively dexterity cognitive and social skills where men have no advantage The average earnings of women have greatly improved relative to those of men in the last 50 years If women as a consequence of their low relative earnings before the Industrial Revolution did most child rearing then the rise in relative female earnings could explain declining modern fertility The puzzle for historians has been however that female labor force participation seems to have declined in countries such as England when real wages began to rise in the late nineteenth century Thus the 1851 census in England ascribes an occupation to 25 of married women By 1901 the census categorizes only 13 of married women as employed and by 1931 a mere 10 Marital fertility declines just when married women are withdrawing from the labor force in part because the Industrial Revolution moved most industrial occupations out of the domestic setting into factories Goldin 1990 reports a similar effect for the USA Further in England in 1851 female participation in different regions is not well explained by relative wages In the northern Industrializing areas women constituted more than 30 of the hired farm labor force in some counties while in the more rural south women were less than 5 of hired farm labor in many counties Clark 2003 Yet the wages of female farm workers were lower relative to male farm wages in the north High labor force participation in the industrializing north re ected a shift in female labor supply not changes in demand There is a striking coincidence in the rise in the literacy of women in England in the late nineteenth century and the onset of the demographic transition Suppose we were to take literacy rates for women as an index of the relative status and power of women in household decision making Also assume that the numbers of children desired by women was always significantly less than for men in a world where early childcare was the province of women only Finally 16 assume the rising relative status of women like female literacy spread down through the social classes from the upper classes first These assumptions could explain why net fertility falls after the late nineteenth century even though in cross section in the sixteenth century and in 2000 there is either a positive connection between income and net fertility or no connection They could also explain why the demographic transition appeared first in the higher socioeconomic status groups so that net fertility is negatively related to income in the transition period Why did Capital not get more of the Gains I have already discussed above why innovators have from the Industrial Revolution on generally collected little of the productivity advance their innovations produced The returns to capital employed in industrial production have often exceeded the competitive market return on capital But the presence of these higher returns seems to owe more to the ability of some firms to create barriers to entry to their sector than to the existence of rapid productivity growth in the sector These entry barriers generally had little to do with technological advances They owe more to factors such as increasing returns to scale Productivity growth in cotton textiles in England from 1770 to 1870 for example far exceeded that in any other industry But the competitive nature of the industry and the inability of the patent system to protect most technological advances kept profits low Cotton goods were homogenous Yarn and cloth sold in wholesale markets where quality differences were readily perceptible to buyer The efficient scale of cotton spinning and weaving mills was always small relative to the market New entrants abounded By 1900 Britain had about 2000 firms in the industry Firms learned improved technique innovating firms through hiring away their skilled workers The machine designers learned improved techniques from the operating 17 rms Thus the entire industry 7 the capital goods makers and the product producers over time clustered more and more tightly in the Manchester area By 1900 40 of the entire world output of cotton goods was produced within 30 miles of Manchester The main bene ciaries of this technological advance thus ended up being two parties consumers of textiles all across the world and the owners of land in the cluster of textile towns which went from being largely worthless agricultural land to valuable building sites The greatest of the Industrial Revolution cotton magnates Richard Arkwright is estimated to have left 05 In when he died in 1792 His son also Richard Arkwright inherited his father s spinning mills But though his son had managed his own mills and had much experience in the industry which was still showing rapid productivity growth he soon sold most of his father s mills preferring to invest in land and government bonds He did well at this leaving 15 m when he died in 1830 despite sinking much money into a palatial country house for his family But Arkwright Senior accumulated less wealth than Josiah Wedgwood who left 06 m in 1795 even though Wedgwood operated in a sector pottery which had far less technological progress potteries were still hand enterprises by and large even in the late l9Lh c Traditionally none of the productivity advance in the Industrial Revolution has been attributed to the pottery industry While the first great innovation of the Industrial Revolution era did not offer much in the way of supemormal profits because of the competitive nature of the industry the second railroads seemed to offer more possibilities Railways are a technology with inherent economies of scale At minimum one line has to be built between two cities and once it is built a competitor has to enter with a minimum of a complete other line Since most cities cannot profitably support multiple links exclusion thus seems possible The success of the LiverpoolManchester line in 1830 7 by the 1840s equity shares on this line were selling for twice their par value inspired a long period of investment in railways Table 6 shows the rapid growth of the railway network in England from 1825 to 1869 by which time more than 12000 miles of track had been laid across the tiny area of England This investment and construction was so frenetic that so called railway manias struck in 1839 and 1846 But again the rush to enter quickly drove down pro t rates to very modest levels as Table 2 shows Real returns the return on the capital actually invested by the 1860s were no greater than for very safe investments in government bonds or agricultural land The reason was that while railway lines had local monopolies they ended up in constant competition with each other through roundabout routes Thus while for example the Great Western may have controlled the direct line from London to Manchester freight and passengers could cross over through other companies to link up with the East Coast route to London Again pro ts inspired imitation which could not be excluded and the pro t was squeezed out of the system Consumers were again the main bene ciaries It is for this reason that unlike in the USA there are very few universities and major charities funded by private donors in England The Industrial Revolution did not result in great individual or family fortunes in England By the 1860s the rich were still by and large the descendants of the landed aristocracy Table 3 shows this for those who died in the 1860s and 1870s For some reason the industrialization of the United States created much greater private and family fortunes Since prices incomes and the size of the population has changed greatly over time the Bibliography Clark Gregory 2003 Agricultural Labor and Agricultural Wages in Joel Mokyr ed The Oxford Encylopedia of Economic History Oxford Oxford University Press Vol 1 2126 and 5965 Clark Gregory 2004a The Condition of the Working Class in England 12092003 Working Paper UCDavis Clark Gregory and Gillian Hamilton 2004 Was PreIndustrial Society Malthusian Tests from England and New France Working Paper UCDavis Dickmann Nicola 2003 Fertility and Family Income on the Move An International Comparison over 20 Years Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs Syracuse University Working Paper 360 Garrett Eilidh Alice Read Kevin Schurer and Simon Szreter 2001 Changing Family Size in England and Wales Place Class and 1quot 39 18911911 Cambridge Cambridge University Press Goldin Claudia 1990 Understanding the Gender Gap An Economic History ofAmerican Women New York Oxford University Press Van Zanden Jan Luiten 2004 The European Skill Premium in International Comparative Perspective 12001950 Working Paper University of Utrecht Wrigley EA and RS Scho eld The Population Historv of England 15411871 A Reconstruction Cambridge Studies in Population Economy and Society in Past Time Cambridge University Press 1989 Wrigley EA RS Davies JE Oeppen and RS Scho eld English Population Histog from Famin Reconstitution 15801837 Cambridge Studies in Population Economy and Society in Past Time 32 Cambridge University Press 1997 20 Real Land Rents Figure 1 Real Land Rents 1210 2000 by decade 120 100 77 Industrial Revolution 20 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 Figure 2 Real Builders Day Wages from 1200 to 2000 V O 0 Real Wage 18605 100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 Table 1 Distribution of Wages and Wealth UK circa 2000 Decile Share of wages Share of non human wealth 90 100 263 477 80 90 142 162 70 80 1 15 1 14 60 70 100 91 50 60 87 63 40 50 77 46 30 40 67 29 20 30 58 17 10 20 49 01 0 10 42 00 Notes The wage distribution is for full time adult workers Wealth ownership is derived from the assets of the deceased Source UK Annual Survey of Earnings and Hours UK Department of Internal Revenue 23 Figure 3 The Wage 0f Unskilled Relative to Skilled Building Workers 1220s 20005 i v Relative Wage Craftsman L aborer 0 v 0 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 Source Table 4 Table 2 Unskilled Wages Relative to Average Incomes 1770s 1850s 2004 Annual Wage Unskilled Men 154 272 16898 Annual Wage Unskilled Women 69 123 12516 GDP m 997 4965 1099896 Population m 700 18 8 595 Adults 16 m 453 117 469 Average income per Employed Adult 220 400 23452 Male Unskilled WageAverage 70 68 72 Income Female Unskilled WageAverage 31 30 53 Income Notes Agricultural laborers are taken in the 1770s and 1850s as the unskilled laboring class In 2004 the New Earnings Survey Sources 25 Figure 4 English Fertility History 1540 2000 GRR Wrigley et a1 GRR NRR N NRR Wrigley et a1 0 1540 1590 1640 1690 1740 1790 1840 1890 1940 1990 Notes GRR Gross Reproduction Rate NRR Net Reproduction Rate Sources Wrigley et a1 1997 p 614 Of ce ofNational Statistics UK Table 3 Estimated Children Born per Married Man 18911911 England Occupation 1891 1901 1911 Professional 494 470 375 Mining 674 654 590 Construction 637 564 537 General Laborer 643 635 523 Agricultural Laborer 662 587 493 Source Garrett et a1 2001 p 291 297 27 Net Reproduction Rate NRR i v Note Figure 5 The Fertility Income Relationship Income w l The subsistence level of income is portrayed as w l l 0 2 4 6 8 Figure 6 English Railroad Construction 1825 1869 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 Miles of Line 4000 2000 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 Table 4 Pro t Rates on the Capital Invested in British Owned Railways 18601912 Period Rate of Return UK Rate of Return British Rate of Return Foreign Lines Empire 18604 43 18659 32 47 18704 35 67 18759 30 94 18804 38 01 72 18859 28 28 82 18904 30 29 54 18959 31 21 44 19004 26 14 38 19059 26 19 50 191012 26 31 66 30 Table 5 The Occupations of those leaving at least 05 In in Britain 186079 Sector All Share of Non Landed New Economy Textiles 17 138 Iron and Steel 15 122 Coal Mining 2 16 Old Economy Manufacturing 13 105 Banking and Commerce 69 561 Law etc 7 57 123 1000 NonLand 256 Land 379 All Source W D Rubinstein Men of Property The Veg Wealthy in Britain Since the Industrial Revolution London Croom Helm 1981 31 Professor Clark Econ 110B Spring 2002 7 THE PROBLEM OF THE POOR IN NINETEENTH CENTURY EUROPE amid the lively debate presently taking place in the Netherlands over the drafting of legal regulations for poor relief the example of Great Britain is ever present it is used by one advocate as a positive example and by another as a gruesome deterrent August Philips 18511 all the millions spent on trying to halt the destructive ravages wrought by the sea of paupers have accomplished nothing L M MoreauChristophe 18512 an opulent nation powerful because of its industrial genius and its application of the miracles of mechanical production has returned in order to occupy its indigents to crude instruments of barbarism and condemns its criminals as well as its poor people to be tortured like ancient slaves Eugene Buret 1840 INTRODUCTION We saw above the substantial increase in output per person that occurred in Britain in the Industrial Revolution and the rapid spread of the new techniques of the Industrial Revolution to other countries in Westem Europe in the midnineteenth century We also saw in Figure l in chapter 6 that the increase in output led to at least modest gains in real wages by the 1840s Yet one of the most acute social problems that occupied the attention of politicians and social reformers in England Ireland France the Netherlands and other westem European countries in the mid nineteenth centuries was the problem of the poor and this problem continues to be a perennial issue in the politics of modem day westem Europe and indeed of the USA Poverty existed in all preindustrial societies in Europe but for some reason the problem came to be regarded as more desperate and intractable just as these 1 August Philips De Engelse Armenwetten naar inhoud en werking geschetst p 59 Quoted in Frances Gouda Poverty and Political Culture the Rhetoric of Social Welfare in the Netherlands and France 18151854 1995 pp 1559 2LM MoreauChristophe Du Probleme de la Misere et de sa Solution Chez les Peuples Anciens et Modernes 1851 Vol 3 p 192 Quoted in Gouda 1995 p 1634 3 Eugene Buret De la Misere des Classes Laborieuses en Angleterre et France Vol 1 Ch 5 Quoted in Gouda 1995 p 164 countries were at long last experiencing signi cant economic growth Poverty for centuries had been relieved in all these countries by a combination of private charity and some public assistance But in the midnineteenth century there were debates about reform of poor relief in many countries The central question in these debates was how can the poor be aided in such a way as will not induce idleness nor place an intolerable burden on taxpayers The first country to attempt major reform of the poor relief system was England in 1834 when the New Poor Law was instituted We discuss below why these major reforms were instituted in 1834 The English reform was followed by a reform of the Irish poor law in 1838 along English lines These reforms served as a model for continental reform debates in part because of the power and prestige of the British economy As Gouda notes Because of the preeminence of England in nineteenthcentury Europe academics and public of cials were inclined to look towards the English experience for guidance Gouda 1995 p 146 The debates on reforming the poor laws in these countries were also driven by an apparent worsening of the problem of poverty The numbers on poor relief in both France and the Netherlands did rise considerably in the mid nineteenth century as Table 101 shows The table shows the total numbers receiving poor relief of some form and the number indoors meaning lodged in some institution for the poor Population in each country was growing at the rate of nearly 1 per year in this period so that the rise in the population of the poor as a percentage of the total population was smaller than the absolute numbers would suggest But it was still the case that in the Netherlands by 1850 with a total population of only 307 million 144 of the population was receiving some form of poor relief compared to only about 75 in 1820 In France the proportion receiving poor relief was never so high But it still rose from about 4 in 1832 to 5 in 1850 TABLE 1 NUMBERS ON POOR RELIEF FRANCE AND THE NETHERLANDS 1820 1850 year Netherlands France indoor all indo or all 1 820 1 65000 1832 230000 500000 1200000 1846 27000 495000 593000 1516000 1850 19000 443000 600000 1600000 Source Gouda 1995 pp 7678 As we shall see the English poor law tried to harmonize two con icting objectives 1 Ensure that all who are genuinely needy get a minimum provision of income 2 Ensure that all who are capable of work do so and that all who have other sources of income use these for their support Ultimately both the Netherlands and France rejected the radical English solution Instead they tried various schemes designed to make the poor productive pauper factories and agricultural colonies which all produced little of value and had to be heavily subsidized The problem of the poor as we have seen in recent years was a particularly intractable one What is interesting about this mid nineteenth century debate is how similar to the debate being conducted in the United States now about reinventing welfare and ending welfare as we know it The same issues of how to distinguish the truly needy from the lazy or improvident arise as do the ideas f somehow making the poor productive by either employing them on public work as the current reform of welfare in New York City calls for or by providing them the incentive to work THE OLD POOR LAW IN ENGLAND4 Starting in the 1790s there was an intersi ed debate in England about the problem of the poor and the intolerable burden they placed on taxpayers In England the poor law that operated until 1834 the Old Poor Law was set in place by statutes promulgated by the central government under the reign of Queen Elizabeth 15 Under the old poor law each parish was legally responsible for its own poor If someone became destitute they could apply to the overseer of the poor of the parish for relief If they were rejected they could appeal to the local magistrates who had the power to order the parish to provide relief The Elizabethan acts called for relatively harsh treatment of the poor beggars were to be whipped the able bodies set to work and the impotent poor aided in almshouses The parishes typically found that the cheapest way of providing poor relief was by granting the poor a subsistence allowance in money and letting them live in their own homes or the homes of their children if they were elderly Parishes would try to find employment for the able bodied by making them work repairing the parish roads or by asking each farmer to employ a certain number of laborers But o en especially outside the harvest season there was simply no work available and the poor would receive relief without having to work Parishes in England were empowered by regulations established in 1722 to build workhouses sometimes called houses of industry where the poor could be put to work picking rags or spinning yarn But few chose to do so By 1834 of 15535 parishes in England a mere 200 had workhouses The others found it was cheaper to provide outdoor relief and leave the poor to get on with their lives Another factor mitigating against use of the workhouse was the small size of the average parish Of the 15535 parishes in 1831 1907 had fewer than 100 inhabitants and 4774 had between 100 and 300 people only The small size of many parishes meant that the overseer could exert relatively effective supervision of the poor even when they were allowed their independence Thus in the parish of Toddenharn in Gloucester in 18323 those in receipt of poor relief were eight efficient Labourers with four Children and upwards 14s 8d three infirm old Men 9s 6d 4 Note 1 205 20 ls 1 12 d 5 As a result ofpopulation growth wages fell in the late sixteenth century Elizabeth reigned from 1558 to 1603 creating a problem of poverty in this period Acts setting up the poor law were issued in 1572 1597 and 1601 three Bastards 5s 8d eleven Widows 1 8 5 three with Families 1 0 9 Parliamentary Papers 1834c p 202b The allowance paid to the working laborers in Todenharn was calculated as the diiTerence between their winter wage and their family need where this was measured as ls 3d for each person in the family plus 2s 6d extra for the husband and wife Thus the need of a family of husband wife and 4 children was estimated as 10s The allowance from the parish was the difference between the wage of the husband and this amount In some cases the parish themselves decided on the scale of relief in others the local magistrates xed the norms Thus in the parish of Little Rissington in 18323 the Rector notes that The Magistrates scale of relief in this division is thus regulatedquot3 The need to meet the subsistence wage for each parish meant that the parish of cers would encourage employers to hire married men with families in preference to single men or married men without children They would also encourage employers to allocate extra earning opportunities to married workers In cases where a worker could simply not find employment three methods were used The parish themselves employed the workers at the scale payment on the roads Or the parish paid the workers the scale and then contracted out their labor to farmers or others for whatever it would command who actually employed them Or in the variant called the Roundsman system the workers were paid partly by the employers but they received a subsidy also from the parish With most variants of the Roundsman system any subsidy to workers in this way would appear as an explicit payment to the parish in poor rates There was one other form of relief under the Old Poor Law which did not necessarily show up in this way In the Labor Rate system the total wage payment required to sustain all the workers in the parish was calculated and each tax payer was assessed a share based on the assessed rental value of the property they occupied They could then either pay wages equal to or greater than this sum or they could pay the parish the diiTerence between the wages they paid and their assessment This scheme discriminated against the small occupiers of land who would typically not employ labor and against the recipient of the tithes who again would not typically employ labor But it would result in 6 Similarly in Wellesbourn Mountford in Warwick the overseer noted that The Magistrates order each family 2s per head a week consequently character is not considered PP 18340 p 554b a reduction in the explicit assessments made directly for support of the poor The Labor Rate however only became legally binding on occupiers as the result of an Act of Parliament of 1832 and then only for parishes which had heavy poor rate burdens THE REFORM OF THE POOR LAW The intellectual origin of the debate on the poor was the emerging discipline of Political Economy Malthus s Essay on a Principle of Population in particular was very in uential Various earlier writers such as Rousseau Godwin and Condorcet had argued that the problem of poverty could be solved by goodwill and education Malthus argued that poverty had its roots not in the social structure or political institutions but in the constant tendency for populations to outrun the means of subsistence which was only checked by poverty driving up the death rate The only thing that could alleviate poverty was to persuade the poor to voluntarily limit their numbers Malthus argued that the existing poor law because it provided more income to poor families as their size increased gave no incentive to the poor to limit their families and would thus immiserize the whole society Malthus s arguments formed the basis of intellectual arguments against the old poor law and were incorporated into the reforms of 1834 The most in uential member of the Poor Law Commission set up in 1834 to examine the workings of the old poor law was Nassau Senior Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University Senior wrote the whole of the report of the commission organized the inquiry that produced the report and then lobbied vigorously to get Parliament to implement the proposals The old poor law was argued by the Poor Law Commission to have three pemicious elTects Reduced Work Incentives By setting a subsistence level of income through magistrates in a way that covered a whole group of parishes the poor law allegedly destroyed the incentive of workers to work hard at work and to seek out employment if they were unemployed In a parish where the market wage rate for a worker was below the guaranteed minimum the worker faced effectively a 100 marginal tax rate Figure 1 shows for 261 parishes or townships in 18323 both the reported weekly wage in winter for an adult male in agreulture and tlne level of meome at whlnh the pansh would stat f fe and 3 oung e en supporung a amlly of husband wl hlldr P shes and townsl m tlne soutln of England are mdseated by an 5quot tlnose m tlne n y an n As em be seen m alarge number of panshes roughl r of tlne sample a father of 3 would Y quarts have hls wage subsldszed out ofthe poor rates m wmter Figure 1 Winter Wages versus the Subsistence Allvwanee 18323 Subslsknca 3 cm l l l r l l e a lo 12 1 WW Wage that m some panshes tlne subslstenee mnmum hlghe wage pad o w rkers m e m m tlne wmter ls surpnsmg If meenuve problems were slgu eant farmers setung w es would not just blmdly set tlnem below tlne mandated level Thus we would expeet that m a pansh wlnere tlne market eleanng wage was below subslstenee tlne farmers would have to set tlne wage enou above subslstenee for most of tlne year as to restore meenuves for tlne majority of workers But eonslder a pansh Where labor demand m tlne wmter was suel tlnat tlne margnal produet of labor was we whlnh was tlne market wage rate If tlne maglstrates da lned subslstenee as xe for a famlly of 5 than some of tlne w ers now have hair meenuve to l or well But smgle workers or tlnose wrtln older eluldren or few children will still have some incentive Suppose a farmer employs N workers and some fraction of them 0 receive the subsidy of 1 If he or she raises the wage to 9 to restore incentives the cost will be 2N If instead the farmer keeps the wage as before then this imposes an indirect cost through higher poor rates to the farmer of 2t0N where t is the fraction of the poor rate bill paid by the farmer But if he increases his wage by 2 the cost will be 2Ngtgt2t0N Thus even though paying low wages implies that many workers have little incentive to perform well it saves on the farmer s labor costs7 Farmers may nd it individually more pro table not to respond with higher wages even though collectively it might be in their interests to raise the wages The level of t will depend on how many farmers hire labor in the parish and on what fraction of poor rates are paid by non labor hiring property owners such as the owners of the tithe and the occupiers of the housing stock In some parishes in 1842 the tithe represented as much as 2540 of the property income But the tithe owner generally did not employ labor Thus in such aparish for every 1 of subsidy paid to his workers by the poor rate the farmers as a whole would only have to pay 075 to 060 Similarly in some parishes house property also represented a signi cant share of property income where again house owners would employ little of the adult male labor Thus each farmer in a parish deciding what level to set wages given the outside forces setting the subsistence wage would have to balance the incentive effects of setting wages below the subsistence level with the gains from getting others to then share the burden of wages The range of payments per person across diiTerent parishes even within the same county was very great Thus for 31 parishes in Bedford Berkshire Buckingham and Cambridge we have information both on the rates paid to support the poor in 18323 the total expenditure on the poor in 1833 and the population in 1831 These gures can be used to calculate roughly what fraction of the population was being supported from the poor rates at any time assuming all the income of the poor came from the poor rates The range across these 31 parishes was from 7 to 46 with a mean of 18 The parishes with the lowest poor rates were unlikely to be subsidizing adult males There the poor relief would support only the elderly the in rm and orphans Thus the incentive 7 George Boyer in a somewhat similar spirit has argued that farmers will choose to lay off workers in the slack season and have them maintained by the poor rate as a way of minimizing the cost of providing workers a given level of income per year He assumes however that there is only one labor hiring farmer in each parish that employed workers receive no relief and that the local parish chooses the level of relief issues of the poor law would not apply to them The parish with a 46 support level must have been supporting also adult males and so the incentive issue would apply with full force Increased Fertility 0f the Poor Since extra children in any family quali ed the family for more support from the parish the incentive to limit fertility to keep family needs in line with earning was removed under the system Also since the incentive to employers was to give work rst to those who the parish would have to pay the largest subsistence allowance to workers faced little penalty from getting married in the form of lower earnings Thus potentially the poor law would increase the fertility levels of the poorest workers leading to a growing underclass dependent for their subsistence on public relief We can think of the system as having a third effect on investment however Reduced Investment Because of the principle that each parish support its own poor the burden varied greatly from parish to parish Some parishes had more valuable land than others some parishes had more poor than others Also the attitudes overseers and of the magistrates who supervised the poor relief efforts of the parishes varied from division to division of the county Thus in Bedford in 1815 the tax rate in parishes where at least 80 of the rental income was from land varied from 4 to 41 The parish with the 4 poor rate was only 3 miles away from that with the 41 poor rate Table 2 shows for a wider set of parishes the reported tax rate in 1814 The tax was on the rental value of land and houses Much of the value of farmland came from investments in farm houses buildings roads fences drainage systems and in soil fertility With local finance of poor relief even within parishes if investments in land improvements in a parish with 4 local rates eamed the normal return for this period of 5 then in the parish with 41 rates they would have to earn 68 to yield the same net retum Thus the high local tax rates in many parishes would discourage investments in land improvement in these parishes Table 2 Average Tax Rates for the Poor 1814 Range of tax Number Tax Rate 1814 rates 1814 Observations 05 9 0037 510 46 0080 1015 129 0126 1520 227 0175 2025 170 0224 2530 109 0271 3035 69 0323 3540 33 0373 4050 24 0436 50 17 0686 all 833 0221 Thus in the worst scenario the rules of the old poor law regime resulted in reduced work incentives for laborers in many parishes increased incentives for men and women to get manied early and a high marginal tax rate on investments in land improvement and housing The Reform The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 sought to correct the two great perceived de ciencies of the old regime To maintain work incentives and delay marriage the law sought to ensure that the utility derived from poor law allowance was much less than the market wage for unskilled workers This they called the principle of less eligibility The problem the Poor Law Commission faced was that the wages of agricultural workers in the rural areas of southern England where most of the unemployment was were very low Some workers were getting as little as 24 per year or 9 per week Now 9 would only be enough to provide workers with the most meager of food and lodging Their diet consisted mainly of bread with a little bit of low quality meat or more o en just meat fat dripping to dip the bread in They lived in miserable one or two room hovels and went to bed whenever it was dark since they were too poor to a ord candle lighting Thus the Poor Law Commission faced a problem in that unless they deliberately starved the poor how could they make their conditions worse than those who were in employment The minimum demands of decency in the treatment of the poor were if anything pushing for conditions better than they could get by working The solution adopted and applied in a bizarrely systematic fashion was to provide the poor with a diet that was nutritionally adequate and housing that was clean and warm but to otherwise deliberately arrange the conditions of life of the pauper to be so regimented and monotonous so that the satisfaction from being on poor relief fell well below that even of those working for miserable wages Those seeking relief from henceforth would have to receive it in a workhouse The workhouse would be clean and warm But conditions would be so regirnented and monotonous that the satisfaction from being on poor relief fell well below that even of those working for miserable wages Thus the Poor Law Board established by the New Poor Law thus laid down siX basic diets that all workhouses were to conform to These diets rotated the same basic bland meals in endless monotony week after week No alcohol was allowed at a time where beer drinking was a staple of the diet of any well to do workman The inmates were not allowed to receive any presents of food while they were in the workhouse The Poor Law Board also initially speci ed that there were to be no special meals on Christmas day and other feast days unless they were paid for by private charitable donations The workhouse also had a strict regime of hours the same for each day wakeup was at 5 am in summer 7 am in winter and bed was at 8 pm in all seasons There were 10 hours of labor six days a week all through the summer and six days of 9 hours in the winter Since it was o en impossible to find any work for the inmates which had an economic value they were o en put to such low value tasks as rock breaking In some cases they were even put to work on treadmills for no other reason than to keep them at hard labor One hour of leisure was allowed each day The meals were at the same times each day At no time were inmates to be allowed out of the workhouse except for very special reasons No visitors were allowed without the permission of the master or matron and then the visit was to be conducted in the presence of the master or matron There were to be no card games no gambling and no smoking indoors Further the workhouse inmates were to be divided into categories each of which was to be strictly segregated the initial plans called for the creation of seven categories of inmates but later the major divisions used were those of the elderly and impotent ablebodied males ablebodied females and children Husbands and wives were thus separated in the workhouse as were parents and their children The poor were to be given no chance to reproduce in idleness The initial plans called for separate workhouses for each of these groups but the Poor Law authorities found this prohibitively expemive so that mostly they contented themselves with constructing large central work houses which had physically separate sections for each category of the poor Since the whole point of the harsh regime was to make the workhouse undesirable for all but the most wretched and most hopeless the one freedom inmates were allowed was the freedom to leave at any time Adult males however had to take all their family members with them when they le The workhouse would also accept anyone who declared themselves indigent at any time The whole idea of the workhouse was that only those who were truly needy would ever think of applying for the help That was why the workhouse was referred to as the workhouse test Part of its job was to ensure that only those truly in need ever applied for relief Another planned effect of the workhouse was to ensure that the farmer could not pay low wages and get his or her labor subsidized by rate payers Now if the rate was too low for workers to live on they would be frced into the work house The reduction in labor supply would drive up wages8 By 1842 most of the Poor Law Unions in England had received orders from the new Central Board created by the Poor Law Amendment Act forbidding them to pay outdoor relief to the ablebodied The New Poor Law also called for the elderly widows and the infirm to be relieved only in the workhouse Since these groups were o en incapable of labor there was no issue of reduced work incentives But the New Poor Law saw the poor as falling into two groups the deserving poor those poor through no fault of their own and the undeserving poor those poor because they had spent all their earnings and made no provision for sickness and old age In particular the authorities wonied about who would take care of the elderly If the workhouse were too comfortable for them then there would be little incentive for anyone to save for their old age and also little incentive for their children to take care of them Thus there was a debate over whether widows with children should be forced into the workhouse Widows were regarded by many as the epitome of the deserving poor brought to their state not by any moral turpitude but by the vagaries of life Yet if widows were allowed relief outside the workhouse there would be reduced incentive for low wage workers to join sickness and death societies which provided insurance against just such eventualities Thus the principle of the workhouse test represented the systematic application of a simple economic argument to a point that seems bizarre The harsh conditions of the New Poor Law regime certainly did excite much unfavorable public reaction 350 new workhouses were built between 1834 and 1839 but they were frequently met with great opposition by the poor themselves and also by laborers in regular employment When construction began riots were not uncommon and a number of the new workhouses were bumed down In other cases the new structures had to be guarded by militia as they were being built to stop the poor tearing them down There were also attacks on the property of the guardians of the poor the local of cials responsible for enforcing the new laws Hay and com ricls were burned cows were stabbed fences were breached to allow cattle to trample the com and farm buildings were set a re Charles Dickens protest novel Oliver Twist published in 8 McCloskey 1973 argues that the presumptions underlying this part ofthe law are inconsistent 1837 was set in part in a workhouse A political pamphlet published in 1836 by the Tories ironically the ancestors of the modern day British Conservative Party then the party of opposition to the Whigs now the Liberals who passed the New Poor Law legislation asls Why should the Whigs raise up their Prisons high With gloomy fronts and walls that reach the sky Are such dark Dungeons to irnmure a band Of Rogues and Swindlers that infest the land No some cry They are for one crime more The crime of being old infirm and poor The workhouse test is easy to understand given the economic logic that impelled the reform But a second notable feature of the reform was the removal of control of the treatment of the poor from the local parishes where they lived to the central Poor Law Board appointed by Parliament Indeed local authorities at the parish level o en opposed the imposition of the New Poor Law rules Given that the tax burden was imposed locally and that it was a signi cant burden on property owners why was there this local opposition In the north of the country in areas such as Lancashire and Yorkshire the reason was that the poor were relatively few and the local wages were higher so that there was little incentive to go on poor relief unless you were truly needy Indoor relief was more expensive per person than outdoor relief Thus in 1860 it is estimated that the respective costs of indoor and outdoor relief per person relieved were outdoor 25 55 indoor 55 200 The reform thus seemed expensive and unnecessary to parishes in the north But the law was also opposed by many parishes in the rural south where the problem the Poor Law was based on the small diiTerence between the conditions of the working poor and those on outdoor relief was most evident These parishes had a er all been using the system of outdoor relief for years Had they wished they could already have built workhouses and enclosed their local poor though the New Poor Law made this cheaper by combining parishes in Poor Law Unions which would construct one larger cheaper central workhouse Part of the opposition of the local parish authorities in the south may have stemmed from fear of the possible actions of the poor and local laborers if the New Poor Law was imposed Others have ascribed darker motives It is argued that the local landowners were o en obliged to at least appear generous to the poor by social pressure Since parishes were small landowners worshipped in the same church as the poor and the laborers in the parish had often worked for the families of landowners for generations Since the landowners controlled the parish vestry which determined local poor law policy they thus found it hard to pursue harsh policies against the poor locally But by voting in Parliament for a tough centralized poor relief policy they could effectively bind themselves at the local level while being able to maintain that they were opposed to the new measures It is certainly the case that the local poor relief unions o en voted for measures which the minutes of their meetings reveal they fully hoped and expected would be overturned by the central Poor Relief Board DID THE REFORMS WORK Though the 1834 reform was supposed to end all outdoor relief there has been debate about how strictly it was actually applied Local administration of poor relief still lay with the ratepayers and land owners of each parish While very few able bodied males were listed as receiving unemployment relief or allowances in aid of wages in the early 1840s the numbers of adult males relieved outdoors on account of illness was signi cant and Digby 1975 argued that this was just a disguised way of continuing outdoor unemployment relief Apfel and Dunkley 1985 however argue that in at least some counties such as Bedford the reforms were vigorously applied so that expenditures and particularly payments to the ablebodied fell sharply Figure 2 shows poor relief expenditures per head for a sample of 1873 parishes and townships data on poor payments per person in the population in the ve years 182933 just before the reform and in the four years 183841 just alter the reform This data is summarized in gure 2 by the average level of payments per head in 18313 In the years before the reform there is a strong correlation between the places with high payments in 18313 and those with high payments on average in the two preceding years The payment pattem across parishes is stable A er the reform the payment pattem is unchanged for parishes with payments per head of population of less than 060 For these parishes average payments per head went from 0406 to 0411 But in the higher paying parishes there is a clear pattem of cuts The higher the payment the greater the proportionate cut In our sample parishes paying more than 060 per year saw a decline in average payments per head from 0972 to 0684 Thus the reforms were imposing real cuts and they were imposing them in the areas of the higher relief payments per head Seemingly in areas of low payments the relief payments before 1834 were principally to the elderly and orphans and were not affected by the strictures of the New Poor Law The areas of high payments per capita were those where the payments were subsidies to wages and thus were cut Figmz The 2mm 11me New Pnnr Law by the earlier 12m nfpzymentsper 11ml Paymams Derhsad mm me 30 3 x25 15 15 2 05 u 75 Reneipzvmemsvm head was a 025 Did the Poor Law Reform have the effects its progenitors anticipated That is did the reform significantly improve the efficiency of the rural economy encourage migration and increase investment in impoverished parishes Was the brutal treatment of the poor under the New Poor Law justified in parts by significant economic gains Opinion on this has varied widely since the passing of the Act At one extreme George Boyer has argued recently that the Old Poor Law imposed very little effrciency cost and indeed involved little transfer of income from property owners to workers Boyer 1990 Farmers operated within a competitive labor market and needed to pay enough to retain an adequate labor force in the countryside By laying off workers in the low labor demand winter season and having them supported by the parish under the poor law they saved some labor costs since the occupiers of the houses and the tithe owners typically paid some of the poor rates Similarly by having the poor rate pay workers when they were ill they again saved on labor costs The high payments of the old poor law were created by the Political Economy of the way the poor were lnded which allowed farmers to transfer some of their labor costs to others Boyer s derived empirical support for his argument about the nature of the poor law in 1833 by using data from a cross section of 311 parishes with information on wages and poor law payments from the Poor Law Commission survey He shows that parishes with higher poor law payments were those with more seasonal labor demands and with a larger proportion of rate payers who were farmers Others such as Mark Blaug have argued that the high poor relief payments of the old poor law were instead a genuine response to a problem of lack of employment and poverty in rural parishes but that the scale of outdoor relief was generally so low as to create little disincentive to effort or to seeking employment for workers Thus the Poor Law did involve a transfer from land owners to the poor but without additional effrciency costs To test who is right we consider what happened to land rents in parishes before and after reform in rural parishes where agriculture was the only employment for most workers Consider a situation where rural parishes are identical except for differences in the resident populations created by fertility differences over time by the earlier presence of rural industries and ly differences in migration opportunities These differences would create differences in the supply of labor and hence wage di erences In the absence of the Old Poor Law the high population parishes would have lower wages and hence higher land rents Thus Re nt Acre z a 0wageNl l l where the wage is the annual farm wage which depends on population per acre N Land owners want population per acre to be as large as possible since g will be negative The Poor Law however imposes a tax on land owners levied though their tenants and transfers income to the families of the workers Thus in the presence of the poor law land rents will be R r P 6 a owageN 00rexp 2 2 Acre z Acre 1 If poor payments are just a transfer to the needy from landowners with no effects on employment labor ef ciency or the wages of the able bodied we would expect 3981 71 For every a faimer pays in poor payments they will be willing to pay a f less for a farm tenancy Suppose however that poor payments reduce labor incentives and reduce investment in land improvement as the Poor Law Commission report argued Then at the same wage levels a paiish with higher poor rate payments per acre will see more than an equivalent decline in rents For the poor rate payments will reduce labor ef ciency and reduce investment in land improvement Thus wewillfind 1 lt 1 Suppose instead that Boyer s theory that poor law payments were substantially a substitute for wages without incentive costs is correct Suppose also that all the poor rates are paid by faimers Then 3981 0 if the poor payments substitute one for one with wages so that workers are laid OH in the winter and supported by poor rates and the marginal productivity of labor in winter is effectively 0 But some of the poor rate was paid by the tithe collector in a paiish with tithe and by the occupiers of house property Thus in most paiishes 31 gt 0 This indeed is Boyer s analysis of the persistence of high poor expenses under the Old Poor Law Paying more poor relief raised rents for landowners Boyer would predict that in so far as the Poor Law Reform operated as planned it would result in a decline in land rents in rural paiishes with previously the highest relief payments When we estimate statistically the size of the coef cient 51 for a group of 702 parishes looking at changes in rents in the years 1833 to 1842 compared to changes in poor relief taxes per acre we nd that the best estimate of 51 is between 05 and l2 The estimates thus reject the Boyer hypothesis that poor relief payments were a substitute for wages The estimate of 3981 is also insigni cantly dilTerent from 71 We cannot reject the idea that Poor Relief Payments were just an income transfer with no ef ciency costs And there is little sign that rents rose when poor rates fell by more than the amount of the decline in poor rates Thus there is little sign that the poor rate imposed great ef ciency costs The Political Economy of Poor Law Reform The Old Poor Law seems to have involved mainly a transfer of income to the indigent with little wider repercussions on labor performance investment or labor mobility How did this happen given the apparent problems of the system we discussed above I suspect that a process occurred under the Old Poor Law where within the legal framework forms emerged that mitigated the ef ciency costs The right to a subsistence income that exceeded the market wage for manied workers for example would have been destructive of labor incentives But we know that in at least some parishes the overseers correctly perceived that to avoid this problem child and other family allowances had to be paid to laborers independent of their actual earnings Similarly the creation of a subsistence guarantee would have impeded migration to towns But we know overseers were o en in the business of paying people to migrate to towns or even to other countries They could easily capitalize the xture burden a family was likely to impose and calculate how much it would save to encourage them to leave We will still be le with one puzzle however If the system was not inef cient why was there forty years of intense debate on the operation of the Old Poor Laws and why was there the social convulsion of the Poor Law Reform Act Why also did the reform mandate what individual parishes could themselves have imposed 7 relief only in a workhouse As we saw even before poor law reform many parishes like Ardleigh had workhouses though these were reserved mainly for the elderly and for infants Indeed the Gilbert Act of 1782 allowed parishes to voluntarily form together into unions that were very similar in form to those mandated by the 1834 Act Other parishes combined by virtue of special Acts of Parliament Yet by 1834 only 10 of the population was covered by such earlier unions Driver 1993 42 The results above suggest that the bene ciaries from the reform were largely rural landowners in the South East of England Rural land in Britain in the nineteenth century was heavily concentrated within a small property owning class Yet the Reform Act of 1832 which preceded the Poor Law Reform of 1834 involved some erosion of the political power of this class in favor of the urban interests of the North Quinault 1993 Why would the newly empowered urban interests push through a reform that mainly served as far as we can estimate to bene t the declining rural interests We have seen above the explicit logic that drove the introduction of the New Poor Law Many historians have argued that these intellectual arguments were merely the representation of deeper underlying social forces But they disagree as to what these deeper social currents were One group argues that the New Poor Law arose because of changing attitudes to the poor As a result of the Industrial Revolution cities were growing bigger and the ties that bound communities together were loosening The poor were no longer the neighbors and dependants of the rich and the middle classes as in the traditional rural villages There was an increasing social distance between taxpayers and the poor that received the bene t of those taxes The Poor Law Commission was thus just the intellectual front that crystallized the growing social gulf between the haves and the have nots Other historians have argued that the New Poor Law is a creation of the reform of the British political system in 1832 The Parliamentary reforms extended the franchise for voting for Parliament to a larger group of property owners and reduced the weight of traditional rural constituencies The voters newly represented were the new capitalist classes emerging in Britain as a result of the Industrial Revolution These newcomers were interested not in the traditional social obligations of wealth but in further improving their economic position The New Poor Law thus represented the interests of the new class of voters and took a centralized form only as a way of allowing local of cials to escape some of the opprobrium that was attached to these harsh measures THE IRISH FAMINE 18469 DID IRELAND DIE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY In 1846 Bitain the richest country in the world was united in a political union with Ireland which had a wage level only about half of that of Britain In Britain itself there had not been a major famine in at least 250 years and no famine with any appreciable fatalities since 131517 it is estimated that about 10 of the population of England died in these terrible years where rains caused three harvest failures in a row all across northem Europe Yet in 18469 in Ireland which is less than 30 miles from Britain 1 million out of 85 million people died This would be equivalent in the modem USA to the death by famine of 30 million people And indeed most of the modem famines in the headlines have killed far fewer people in total and numbers and even fewer as a percentage of the population Thus the Bangladesh famine of 1974 killed 26000 the Sahel famine of 19734 killed about 100000 and the famine in western Sudan in the 1980s killed fewer than 100000 Further most of these modem famines are associated with war and the breakdown of civil order while in Ireland there was peace and calm While about 1 million died in the Irish famine another 1 million emigrated in the famine years leaving Ireland with a population in 1851 of only 95 million people Large migrations also occurred within Ireland as the poor moved to towns such as Dublin in search of work Another odd feature of the Irish famine was its length People were still dying from the effects of the famine in 1850 5 years a er it had begun Modem famines in contrast have rarely lasted for longer than a year The immediate trigger of the famine in Ireland was the potato blight which reached Ireland in 1845 The potato had unique importance in Irish agriculture before the famine Nearly 50 of the Irish population was said to depend on the potato for their livelihood in the 1840s The total crop was about 12 to 15 million tons half of which was eaten by people9 In part this was because the amount of land per member of the rural population small in Ireland compared to Britain Whereas there were 8 acres per person in rural areas in Britain in 1840 there were only 3 acres per head in Ireland Thus Irish peasants o en had very small plots of land In 1841 45 of Irish farms were less than 5 acres Yet the potato allowed this population to subsist because the potato 9 This implies that in 1845 the average person in Ireland ate 5 lbs of potatoes per day through labor intensive spade cultivation could produce many more calories per acre than grain crops or pasture The blight caused a dramatic and lasting drop in potato yields in Ireland Net potato yields per acre in 1840 to 1844 were 52 tons which means about 12584 pounds of potatoes per acre One acre could thus provide enough calories to provide a very basic sustenance to nearly 5 people for a year In 1845 the potato yield was only 32 tons In 1846 it fell to only 07 tons The yield recovered in 1847 to a very good 94 tons but very few potatoes had been planted that year since in desperation the starving poor had eaten the seed stock of potatoes The yields in 1848 and 1849 were again very bad The plight of the poor in Ireland was made worse by the generally high food prices that prevailed throughout Europe in 1847 because of generally bad harvests and the effects of the potato blight in the Netherlands and Belgium This made food all the more expensive in Ireland Interesting however calculations of the total food supplies available in Ireland in the famine period do not suggest that the picture was so bleak as the potato yields alone would suggest Table 3 shows the total number of kilo calories of food products available in Ireland per person per day before and during the famine TABLE 3 CALORIES OF FOOD AVAILABLE PER PERSON 1840 50 1840 5 1846 50 Domestic Production Potatoes 2770 600 Other 1 100 1440 ALL 3 870 2040 Imports 75 0 5 10 Net 3 120 25 50 Availability Table 3 suggests that while the number of calories available per person from potatoes declined dramatically the total calories available per person in Ireland fell much more modestly Indeed the total decline was only 18 This was because there was a slight increase in the production of other agricultural products if land is not used to grow potatoes it can be used for other purposes and there was a change from food exporting to food importing Grain was imported for famine relief efforts by the government and commercial exports of grain declined Indeed in the famine years the number of calories available in Ireland per capita were enough to sustain everyone in robust good health since even in modem America the consumption of adult males is only about 2700 calories per day while women consume only about 2100 each and children consume less The reason for the deaths in the famine was thus not just that there was an extremely small amount of food available The problem was that what food was available was not getting to the poorest workers The reason for this was twofold First the potato blight dramatically reduced the demand for labor in the Irish economy When the blight came a large amount of land was transferred from potato cultivation into other uses such as grain or pasture Thus while there were 22 m acres of potatoes in 1845 by 1848 there were only 08 m acres in potatoes These other uses of land used much less labor than potatoes Thus part of the problem was that there was no employment for the poor a er the famine or employment only at extremely low wages Wages in Ireland were very low before the potato blight but the shock to labor demand could only lower them further Without employment the poor had no income to buy the food that was available This effect is an instance of a general feature of famines that Amartya Sen has emphasized which is that famines can have two separate causes One is the failure of harvests but the other is a change in the income distribution which makes the poor worse off and so reduces their power to purchase the food they need The first round effect of the potato blight on food supplies in Ireland was not as dramatic as the deaths might suggest but their was also an indirect effect on the demand for labor which further hurt the poorest workers At the height of the famine Irish farmers were exporting large quantities of animals for slaughter in England Thus Table 4 Animal Exports 1846 49 Year Exports of Exports of Exports of cattle sheep Pigs 000 000 000 1 846 192 259 48 1 1 847 200 324 106 1848 203 256 1 1 1 1 849 2 1 1 241 68 Only the export of pigs declined sharply because pigs were kept by the poor and fed in part on potatoes The poor in Ireland were not able to bid away these food exports from English consumers The second problem in the famine years was the reaction of the British government Why didn t the government of the United Kingdom of which Ireland was an important part step in to prevent the famine deaths Initially the famine received very little attention in London where the United Kingdom Parliament sat The political scene was dominated in 1845 by two great issues the repeal of the Corn Laws which protected British agriculture and the demands for Irish independence The initial reports of the potato blight were merely that it had reduced potato yields in some areas The government however took steps to ward olT the threat of starvation The assumption of the British government from the beginning however was that it could not just hand out food to the hungry in Ireland The New Poor Law which emphasized relief only in exchange for hard labor and admission to the workhouse had been implemented in even more draconian form in Ireland in 1839 Under the Irish Poor Law it was forbidden to give anyone outdoor relief even though the majority of the English poor still received outdoor relief It was felt that because of the lower level of wages Ireland could not afford a poor law system without the most stringent workhouse test Further under the Irish Poor Law there was no legal right to poor relief as existed in England Ireland under the new law was organized into 130 poor law unions who were each to construct a workhouse By 1845 on the eve of the famine 118 workhouses had been build with space for 100000 paupers The government took it as an axiom that famine relief would have to be conducted within the framework of the Poor Law system and with a test being applied to see if people were truly needy or mere malingerers Thus when local famine relief committees were set up in 1846 they were given grants and loans from the central government only on condition that they would distribute no food until the workhouses were lll Those receiving food outside the workhouse were to perform hard labor in return for their food Also the wages paid for this labor had to be below those of other unskilled labor in the locality so as not to reduce incentives for those in employment This meant that the relief wages paid by the local committees were only about 5 per week about half the lowest rural wage in England at that time But the dearth of food in Ireland was driving up prices Potatoes which normally sold at about 25 d per 14 lbs were selling for 39 d per 14 lbs in 1849 Grain prices did not increase much in 1846 since they depended on the European grain market but by 1847 grain prices where high all across Europe A wage of 5 if all spent on bread would buy only 30 lbs of bread A laborer engaged in hard work would need about 14 lbs to subsist Thus if a worker had a wife and several children the wages paid by the relief boards in 1846 would already have resulted in people being on the edge of hunger To encourage industry on the part of the relieved workers they were sometimes paid by a piece rate of so many shillings per ton of stone broken By early 1847 the lll extent of the problem was revealing itself and it was clear that the temporary measures of 1846 would be insuf cient The potato crop is harvested in October and the crop of 1846 was so bad that by February 1847 714000 people in Ireland were receiving relief The price of potatoes had risen from the normal 2 per hundredweight to 7 or even 12 Crowds of starving people were marching on workhouses demanding relief As it became clear that the blight was likely to be a lasting problem the government embarked on a second permanent relief operation This was even more closely tied to the poor relief system The money to relief the poor as in England was to be raised from local property taxes The local poor law unions were still forbidden to provide outdoor relief and were instructed to embark on an intensive program of workhouse construction Thus by 1851 in Ireland an additional 200000 workhouse places had been constructed so that there were then 309000 workhouse places available In contrast Britain in 1851 with more than three times the population of Ireland had only about 200000 workhouse places Since initially there were simply not enough workhouse places for all those seeking relief in the interim many poor law unions were forced to grant outdoor relief And the government in 1847 amended the Irish Poor Law so that the elderly and infirm were instructed to be put on outdoor relief so that more space in the workhouses would be left open for the able bodied Thus the numbers on relief outside the workhouse remained substantial throughout the famine despite the attempt to provide more workhouse places The numbers on relief schemes outside workhouses were 1847 2900000 1848 834000 1849 784000 1850 149000 1851 20000 The amended Poor Law of 1847 also sought to eliminate what it saw as the long run problem in Ireland taking agriculture in England as a model The assumption was that poverty in Ireland was encouraged by the existence of a large body of semi independent cro ers who farmed a few acres of land and worked as laborers for the rest of their income The only way to transform Irish agriculture and drive from the land this large body of marginal workers was to eliminate these small holdings To encourage the consolidation of the land in the hands of large scale capitalist farmers the new Poor Law contained a clause denying relief to anyone holding more than 1A acre of land Thus to get any relief small holders had to sell up their tenancies10 To encourage consolidation of holdings lrther the government also placed the burden of relief on local landowners and insisted that even if tenants did not pay their rents the landlords still had to pay the poor taxes on land This gave landlords additional incentive to evict tenants unable to pay rent from land When tenants were 10 Even though they were technically only tenanm occupiers of land in Ireland had rights to the land at low rents and so became effectively part owners of the land forced into poorhouses to seek relief the landlords thus o en seized the property and tore down the cabins they had lived in so that they became homeless The numbers on outdoor relief by the summer of 1847 were massive In the west of Ireland which was poorer and heavily dependent on the potato almost all the population in some areas were receiving relief Since the relief was to be paid for by local taxes this meant that in many areas the taxes were too little to pay for the upkeep of the poor Supplies of food at workhouses were thus generally meager and irregular The standard ration adopted was 1 lb of cornmeal per adult per day and 12 lb per child Now a pound of cornmeal is only 1600 calories This would have been a meager ration if the bene ciaries were not engaged in labor but heavy labor increases the calorie demands of people greatly Thus in the 1860s Irish farm laborers would typically consume about 4000 calories per day each as did slaves in the US South circa 1860 The government pursued its policy of requiring work for relief even though there were 3 million on relief in 1847 In these conditions the food ration was a starvation ration Men inside the workhouse were employed breaking stones while women sometimes broke stones but more frequently did sewing spinning and knitting Workhouses a er 1847 were allowed to purchase farms to train boys under age 16 in fanning But they were forbidden from allowing any of the men in the workhouse from working on these farms since this would make workhouse life less irksome to them Work was also demanded of the large numbers on outdoor relief but there was no way of productively employing most of these people so most of the work was stone breaking The paupers were divided into three classes based on their health and each was given a daily quota of stone to break or eight hours of work was demanded Irish landlords asked the government to be allowed to use the labor of the paupers for estate improvements such as drainage schemes but the government felt that since the landlords locally were responsible for administering the poor relief system there was too much con ict of interest Thus the poor were mainly employed for road repair or road building doing such tasls as hauling earth or breaking and hammering stones Given that the government did provide relief to all even though it was meager relief why did so many die On the official death statistics the number of deaths attributed to starvation is low only 21770 from 1846 to 1851 Most of the recorded deaths are from infectious diseases 193000 from fever 125000 from dysentery and diarrhea etc But death from disease is the normal process in a famine As people starve their bodies lose the ability to resist disease Also as people starve they lose the energy to keep themselves and their clothes clean Thus in Ireland the poor soon sold most of their clothing which had any value leaving themselves dressed in the same set of rags night and day They huddled together for warmth in whatever cabin heat was available in These were ideal conditions for the spread of lice which spread both typhus and relapsing fever The lice are also adept at quickly leaving the body of a host which dies they quickly detect declines in the body temperature of the host and seeking a new home As the search for food got more desperate large bodies of people took to the roads in search of work or relief They were crowded together in the workhouses Thus the country was swept by infectious diseases Thus the reason for the very high mortality in Ireland in the famine years does appear at least in part to be the adherence to the doctrines of the New Poor Law The potato blight caused a collapse of labor demand in the Irish economy The free market wage in Ireland already lower than in England would have fallen alter the blight This meant the market wage would be insuf cient to keep workers alive and in health Yet when the government distributed relief it insisted that the conditions of relief be worse than those of the free market so as not to reduce the incentive to work Thus the government offered a diet that was barely adequate to support basic metabolic functions over a long period of time but insisted that those receiving relief engage in hard labor Further it made local authorities spend a large amount of the money raised for the poor in local taxes either looking a er people in expensive workhouses or in building new workhouses This money otherwise could have been used to improve the food ration received by the poor Thus the workhouse test applied in Ireland seemed to have a large hand in killing them Re ecting this the death rate of those accepted into the workhouses and receiving relief was high In April 1847 in one workhouse 25 of the inmate population died If this was repeated throughout the year then 130 of people in the workhouse would have died in the course of a year Thus from 1841 to 1851 in Ireland 284000 people died in workhouses under the care of the guardians of the poor It seems at least partially correct to say as some did at the time that the Irish died from Political Economy REFERENCES Apfel William and Peter Dunkley 1985 English Rural Society and the New Poor Law Bedfordshire 1834 1847 Social History 10 1 37 68 Blaug Mark 1963 The Myth of the Old Poor Law and the Making ofthe New Journal ofEconomic History 23 151 184 Blaug Mark 1964 The Poor Law Report Reexamined Journal ofEconomic History 24 229 245 Boyer George R 1990 An Economic History of the English Poor Law 1 75 0 1 85 0 Cambridge Cambridge University Press Digby Ann 1975 The Labour Market and the Continuity of Social Policy a er 1834 The Case of the Eastern Counties Economic History Review 28 1 69 83 Eastwood David Governing Rural England Tradition anal Transformation in Local Government 1 780 1840 Oxford Clarendon Press 1994 McCloskey Donald 1973 quotNew Perspectives on the Old Poor Lawquot Explorations in Economic History 10 419436 Mof t Robert 1992 Incentive Effects of the US Welfare System A Review Journal of Economic Literature 30 March 1992 161 Song Byung Khun 1998 Landed Interest Local Government and the Labour Market in England 1750 1850 Economic History Review 513 465 488