n?u=RePEc:auu:hpaper:052&r=his

repec.nep.his

n?u=RePEc:auu:hpaper:052&r=his

annum). No doubt, part of this was because Tasmania had no mineral boom in the

1850s. But British convict transport policy also played an important role. During the

depressed 1840s, and while British convict transport to New South Wales ceased, it

continued at an increasing rate to Tasmania. There was significant out-migration of

Tasmanian free labor to South Australia and New South Wales during these years, but

even convicts with passes could not leave the colony. As Coghlan elaborates at

length, the policy induced a labor glut in Tasmania for more than a decade (Coghlan

1918, vol. 1, Chp. VI).

Tasmania was large enough to have been a significant force serving to raise

“national” inequality up to the 1870s (39.2 percent of the combined New South Wales

and Tasmanian labor force in 1841/42 were in the latter), but rising regional

inequality was reinforced by the addition of three younger and much smaller (and still

agrarian) colonial settlements – South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland.

6. Early Findings and an Agenda for the Future

This early exploration of Australian living standards, growth and inequality

between 1821 and 1871 reveals that there is considerable archival evidence available

for the task. While much remains to be done, we have documented that free labor

living standards in Australian towns during the 1820s were below those of London

(31 percent lower) and the United States (49 percent lower). By including assigned

convicts in some broader “working class” measure, the figure would have been even

lower. The United States was the leader over both in the 1820s. But Australia was

well ahead of both by the 1870s. Living standards in Australia were not as high as

those of the world leading economies in the 1820s-1830s, but she grew into her

leadership position in the 1870s by exceptionally fast growth. We have also

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