Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Historical average wage data back to antiquity ( No Answer,   1 Comment )
Subject: Historical average wage data back to antiquity
Category: Business and Money > Economics
Asked by: ckent-ga
List Price: $55.00
Posted: 30 Nov 2006 03:25 PST
Expires: 30 Dec 2006 03:25 PST
Question ID: 786929
What are the historical average wages for people earning the US
Dollar, UK Pound, and other world-leading currencies going back to
antiquity?  I want to go back at least 2,000 years, so I think I want
whatever were the largest civilisations' currencies in the middle
ages, dark ages, Roman empire, and ancient Greece.  I don't know if
it's possible to go back as far as Sumeria.  Ancient eastern
civilisations would be nice to have.

I am aware that average wages can be measured in different ways, and
that median wages may be more appropriate.  It may be appropriate to
include at least two methods:  Firstly the most acceptable measurement
in modern times (assuming there is any consensus, and per currency if
applicable), going back as far as it will go.  Secondly, whatever
measurement is available throughout history, back to antiquity, is
something I would like to have applied forward to the present day --
for the sake of consistency.

There is probably more than one value for any given moment and currency,
so I would like the most central location, or most official value,
applicable.  A good answer will take the most sensible approach, with
multiple data if (really) necessary.

The answers can come in a table of numbers, or more likely a bunch of
tables.  I don't need graphs.  Each table should have at least one
currency, time period, and wage rate.

An acceptable answer will have some kind of continuity through history
(assuming this is possible), from the Euro to the Romans.  Of course I
expect to see currencies begin and end through history, such as the
two or three German ones last century.

An acceptable answer will identify updates to currencies when
governments changed them.  This would include decimilization, but also
probably invasions and independence.

The maximum detail I need is one data point per year (I don't know the
economic convention for settling on a yearly value ... January 1st? 
Averaging?)  Naturally, the further back you go, the less frequent the
data will be.  Best estimates are perfectly fine.  Anything is better than nothing.

Finally is the question of exactly which currencies to include.  I am
not sure, and I am also not sure if this question is worth a higher
price:  Please tell me if there is more information I should pay more
for.  The background expectation is to see those currencies that are
reported regularly in the news, such as US, UK, Euro and Japan.  So
five at any one time is probably enough.  I expect the maximum number
will probably impose itself, depending on which period of history is
being measured.

I will give a $10 tip if you can include all Australian currency
(dollar, pound, anything earlier which is colony-based) back to 1788.

I will probably tip if there is a chunk of tangential but interesting
related information provided that didn't occur to me to ask for.

Please be aware that I am asking four other follow-up questions to do
with the historical price of gold and other items.

Clarification of Question by ckent-ga on 02 Dec 2006 05:02 PST
By second-guessing all the clarifications, this looks too complicated.
Once per century will be fine.

All I basically want to get is:

"In the 19th century the average was $$$ ..."
"In the 18th century the average was £££ ..."
"In the 17th century the average was £££ ..."

That's it.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Historical average wage data back to antiquity
From: omnivorous-ga on 02 Dec 2006 05:18 PST
CKent --

The requirement for 20 centuries worth of data is tougher than you
might imagine (though there are some websites that have long time
series for commodities such as gold).  Barbara Tuchman, who wrote "A
Distant Mirror" on the medieval period, was interested in looking at
wage rates around plague periods, as dramatic reductions in population
make labor more expensive.  She found the data too scant to make solid
conclusions -- though there is some data in the book.  And a single
century's data hides a LOT of fluctuation:

"Mediĉval Data from Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror" (David Bofinger)
"A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century" (Tuchman, 1987)

Best regards,


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy