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International comparative work on occupational structure and population geography

International comparative work on occupational structure and population geography

Data on occupational structure and population geography have exceptional promise for international comparative work in economic history. We have estimates of national aggregates such as GDP per capita and real wages for many countries but the comparisons are problematized by problems arising from the different structure of prices in different places at very different times (the index number problem). Data on the distribution of the labour force and on population geography do not suffer from the index number problem and in many countries estimates of labour force distributions and populations can be constructed over long periods of time with smaller margins of error than estimates of GDP per capita and wages. Such data can also provide a much richer quantitative description of an economy and its sectoral and spatial evolution over time. Nonetheless, such data are complements to the national accounts framework and attempts to construct real wage series not substitutes for them.

Following the lead of the Occupational Structure of Britain c.1379-1911 project three international initiatives have been taken to promote international comparative work in this field:

International comparative work on occupational structure and population geography