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The Family Wage System in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Region: 1850-1900

Thomas J. Keil and Wayne M. Usui
Social Forces
Vol. 67, No. 1 (Sep., 1988), pp. 185-207
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2579106
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2579106
Page Count: 23
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The Family Wage System in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Region: 1850-1900
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Abstract

Using data from the U.S. Census manuscript collections from 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900, this study examines the prevalence of the family wage economy among different categories of occupations and across ethnic groups. Two aspects of family wage economies are examined: the use of child labor and the use of the labor of young adults and/or adolescents. We find that there are marked differences in the levels of use of both types of labor across occupational and ethnic categories and over time. In general, our data show that it was those workers who were most economically distressed who turned to the family wage system as a way of adapting to the emerging industrial economy.

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