Chapter 9. Non-Income Parameters

Having seen the movements of nominal incomes and of inflation-adjusted incomes, at least in the industrial employments, we can pass to other methods of measurement of living standards. The numbers referring to wages are somewhat suspect since we cannot know if we are adjusting correctly for the cost of living. What we can do, is to investigate the physical consumption of food per person.In advanced economies, we have to evaluate the Gross National Product – that is, the total value of goods and services produced – because there are many different types of expenses of the people, and using the ratio of incomes to food costs would not tell us much. But when we look at the period of the Industrial Revolution, the majority of the people did not have many expenses except food, rent, fuel, and clothing, and a certain percentage did not sufficient food. Thus we should collect data as to the food consumption of the people, and see the development of these figures during this period.

There can be no doubt that the production of the farms increased in efficiency from 1790 to 1860. There were continual improvements in the farms, which were communicated between the farmers; these improvements were, for example, new implements, new ploughs, new methods for preparing the food for the animals; often the improvements were only introduced after comparative experiments; Farmer’s Associations were set up in each county; these Associations gave out prizes for the largest animals, or the most productive milk cow, etc., the Board of Agriculture required reports for each county. The farmers and landlords would not have undertaken these activities, if they could not see real improvements in production.

«The vast increase of agricultural produce has not only proceeded from any great number of people being employed, but chiefly from the use of improved implements, better courses of cropping, the reclaiming of waste land, melioration of every species of soil, and improved farm stock. By such means farm produce has been doubled, and the condition of the soil, the occupiers of land, and every description of labourers, has been improved during the present generation.

(William Aiton, Remarks on Mr. Malthus’ Opinions on Agricultural Subjects, The Farmer’s Magazine, Vols. 25-26, 1824, p. 464)

9.1. Consumption of Cereals

9.2. Changes in Cereals

9.3. Consumption of Meat

9.3A. Consumption of Other Foods

9.4. Food in London

9.5. Northern Culinary Culture

9.6. Heights

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