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The living standards of Tyneside coal miners, 1836-1862

Solomon, Guy Samuel (2014) The living standards of Tyneside coal miners, 1836-1862. MSc by research thesis, University of York.

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Using c. 16,000 fortnightly paybills from Wylam Colliery in the Northern Coalfield, we assess the standard-of-living of Tyneside coal miners between 1836 and 1862. We argue that the earnings of hewers were lower than currently proposed by the literature, and that the employment of additional family members provided the income necessary for survival. We also quantitatively demonstrate the wage levels of other, more junior, occupations. Additionally, we argue that mining families did not earn more than those in other industries due to the income of adult males; instead they generated additional income through child labour. We also assess worker migration, and independently confirm the existing commentary in the literature. In addition, we investigate other factors affecting standard-of-living, such as progression through mining occupations. We have used our data not only to investigate the average wage level of these miners, but also to critique the use of wages in assessing standard-of-living. We have therefore calculated the fluctuations in earnings on a fortnightly basis, and discussed the impact this would have had on standard-of-living. We have also considered the deviation in the earnings of workers, and the extent to which families may have differed from the norm. Furthermore, we have also considered the aspects of standard-of-living which we are unable to comment on using our present data. We conclude that experiences varied considerably, and therefore that whilst the use of the mean wage by most scholars is informative, it is only part of the picture.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > Economics and Related Studies (York)
Depositing User: Mr Guy Samuel Solomon
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2015 15:22
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2015 15:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8752

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