Indices of nominal wages, 1803-2004

By Svante Larsson  

 

This section presents the evolution of nominal wages during the last two hundred years. The years until 1860 represent daily wages for male agricultural workers, while the rest of the period represents wages for male and female workers in manufacturing industries. The series of hourly wages for male manufacturing workers in 1860-2004 offers the most consistent evidence of the evolution of nominal wages. It shows that nominal wages have on average increased by 5,3 percent annually. The first era of industrialization until 1913 was accompanied by steady increases of nominal wages. The most remarkable surge in nominal wages took place during the aftermath of World War I, between 1917 and 1921, when wages increased 136 percent. Wages dropped substantially in the deflation that followed but remained quite stable in the 1920s and 1930s. A steady and long-term acceleration followed from the 1950s until the depression at the beginning of the 1990s. After the crises nominal wages have increased moderately. The good quality of the data after 1920 also allows the comparison of female and male hourly wages. There are two episodes when the ratio of male to female wages contrasted rapidly. The first occurred between 1943 and 1949, and the second between 1961 and 1978. Apart from these episodes the ratio remained unaltered.

 

With respect to the way the wage data have been collected three sub-periods can be distinguished: The years until 1860 are covered by Lennart Jörberg’s (1972) day wages for male agricultural workers. The years between 1860 and 1913 are covered by Bagge, Lundberg and Svennilson’s (1933) investigation “Wages in Sweden”, which gives wages for mainly male manufacturing workers until 1913. Thereafter the Official Statistics of Sweden provides hourly wages for male and female workers.

 

Wages index for male and female workers in quarrying industries Wages index for female and female workers in chemical and rubber industries.

 

List of variables and their definitions:

Name Period Explanation
Wages index for male and female workers in manufacturing industries, weighted average 1803-2004 Daily wages for male workers in agriculture in 1803-1860 linked to hourly wages for male manufacturing workers in 1860-2004. Hourly wages for female manufacturing workers in 1865-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in mining industries 1860-2004 Annual wages for male workers in 1860-1913 linked to hourly wages in 1913-2004. Hourly wages for female workers in 1952-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in metal industries 1860-2004 Hourly wages for male workers in 1860-2004. Hourly wages for female workers in 1913-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in quarrying industries 1913-2004 Hourly wages for male and female workers.
Wages index for male and female workers in engineering industries 1860-2004 Hourly wages for male workers in 1860-2004. Hourly wages for female workers in 1913-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in wood industries 1890-2004 Annual wages for male workers in 1890-1913 linked to hourly wages in 1913-2004. Hourly wages for female workers in 1913-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in pulp, paper and printing industries 1895-2004 Hourly wages for male workers in 1895-2004.
Hourly wages for female workers in 1913-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in food, beverages and tobacco industries 1861-2004 Hourly wages for male workers in 1861-2004.
Hourly wages for female workers in 1888-2004.
Wages index for male and female workers in textile, clothing, leather and hair industries 1865-2004 Hourly wages for male and female workers.
Wages index for female and female workers in chemical and rubber industries 1913-2004 Hourly wages for male and female workers.
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