126). 36 And the South’s relatively poor economic achievement was both due to rapid

urban-industrial growth up North and to a century long “reversal of fortune” down

South. At least judging by Tasmania’s performance (the only poor Australian colony

in 1871 that we can document over the previous five decades), a large regional gap

had emerged long before 1871. Relying extensively on Coghlan’s wage, annual

earnings and price data, Table 10 reports annual earnings in 1830s prices for unskilled

(both farm and non-farm, including in-kind payments) and all laborers, including

skilled artisans and mechanics, both weighted by occupational employment. 37 What

we find is another example of reversal of fortune. 38 In the 1830s, real annual earnings

of unskilled workers in Tasmania were 17.2 percent higher than New South Wales,

while skilled labor earned 36.5 percent more. Four decades later, the Tasmanian

advantage had evaporated and become instead a disadvantage: annual earnings for

unskilled workers were 36.5 percent below New South Wales in the 1870s, and the

figure for all workers was 41.6 percent below. 39 And that Tasmanian reversal of

fortune was not just driven by fast per worker growth in New South Wales (2.23

percent per annum), but also by very slow or no growth in Tasmania (0.09 percent per

36 These US comparisons involve the original thirteen colonies only. Thus, the South Atlantic census

region contains Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia while the Northeast

contains New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and

Connecticut) and the Middle Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland).

37 We assume that those with monthly and annual contracts (like farm labor) worked full time. See

footnote 12 for details.

38 We refer here to the language of Acemoglu et al. (2002).

39 We have not yet fully exploited earnings data for white collar employees and managers, evidence

available in the early Colonial Blue Books. In the future, we intend to merge the white collar earnings

data with the working class earnings data reported here, weighted by the occupation employment data

reported in the colonial censuses.

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