NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Labor Force in the Nineteenth Century

Robert A. Margo

NBER Historical Working Paper No. 40
Issued in September 1992
NBER Program(s):   DAE

This paper surveys recent research on the labor force in the nineteenth century. I examine trends in the aggregate size, demographic, occupational and industrial composition of the labor force; short-run and long-run movements in nominal and real wages; hours of work; the development of the factory system; the growth of unions; and government regulation of labor markets, specifically protectionist legislation. Although my survey is deliberately broad in scope, there is an underlying emphasis on those aspects of change that had a direct bearing on the evolution of the labor force in the twentieth century. In keeping with this theme, the paper concludes with a brief comparison of labor markets at the turn of the century with labor markets today.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/h0040

Published: S. Engerman and R. Gallman, eds., The Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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