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Wages and Earnings in Late Medieval England: Evidence from the Enforcement of the Labour Laws

Simon A. C. Penn and Christopher Dyer
The Economic History Review
New Series, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Aug., 1990), pp. 356-376
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society
DOI: 10.2307/2596938
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2596938
Page Count: 21
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Wages and Earnings in Late Medieval England: Evidence from the Enforcement of the Labour Laws
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Abstract

The well-known upward trend of wage rates after 1349 is examined in the light of working patterns reported to the courts enforcing the legislation of 1349, 1351, and 1388. Wage earners showed remarkable flexibility, by pursuing a number of occupations, changing jobs, and moving from one place to another. The wage rates said to have been paid varied considerably, and workers preferred short-term to long-term employment. In view of the complexity of the wage earners' lives, no dogmatic view can be taken of the likely size of their earnings. Maxima and minima are defined, and future lines of enquiry advocated.

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