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The Impact of Emigration on Real Wages in Ireland 1850-1914



In this paper we evaluate quantitatively the impact of mass emigration from Ireland between the 1850s and the first World War on Irish real wages. We produce new estimates for several occupations which show that, contrary to some accounts, real wage growth in Ireland was respectable by international standards. We find econometric evidence of an inverse relationship between real wage growth and labour force growth. Using a computable general equilibrium model of the Irish economy we find that, in the absence of emigration, faster labour force growth would have resulted in lower real wage growth, reducing real wage convergence on United Kingdom and the United States.

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