[History by Numbers] Earning a crust
How much did our ancestors earn? And how much was a bushel of peas?
Money is a subject few of us can escape from for long, and that’s in modern times of enormous relative prosperity compared to most of our forebears. I thought it would be interesting to look at how much our ancestors earned, as well as how the spending power of the pennies in our pantaloon pockets has changed.
A good place is to start is the fascinating website MeasuringWorth.com. At www.measuringworth.com/ukearncpi you can enter any dates from 1209 to the present and retrieve data for average annual nominal earnings (for England – the rest of Britain is only included from 1963), as well as ‘real earnings’ adjusted to 2010 values, and indeed a relative figure for the Retail Price Index. The RPI itself was only created in 1947, and indeed was superseded in 2013 by the Consumer Price Index. The site also has a tool for calculating the purchasing power of a pound from 1270 to the present, at www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/.
The immediately obvious conclusion from these figures is ‘we’ve never had it so good’. And secondly, that there’s no escaping inflation.