[Excerpt] This chapter examines the integration of labour markets within the rural and urban sectors of England and Wales during the second half of the nineteenth century. Although there is a large literature on internal migration and emigration in Victorian Britain, historians typically have focused on the direction and causes of migration rather than on its consequences for the labour market. Broadly speaking, the literature has found that workers did indeed migrate towards better wage-earning opportunities, that most moves were short-distance moves, and that once certain patterns of migration were established they often persisted. The studies leave the strong impression, if only implicitly, that although there was considerable migration, opportunities for arbitrage were not fully exploited. However, analyses of the pattern and extent of migration movements shed little light on the issue of integration. Markets could be perfectly integrated but exhibit little migration or they could exhibit high rates of migration but be poorly integrated.
A better measure of labour market integration can be obtained by examining wage rates. There is a large literature on the history of wages during the nineteenth century. However, with the exception of Arthur Bowley (1898, 1900a, 1900b, 1901), A. Wilson Fox (1903), and most importantly E.H. Hunt (1973, 1986), historians have not examined the changes over time in local or regional variations in wages within occupations.
This chapter extends the work of Bowley, Fox, and Hunt, by offering several tests for the degree of labour market integration and its trend from 1850 to 1913. We construct annual regional wage series for agricultural labourers and carpenters, and use these new wage series to test for regional wage convergence and to estimate structural models to assess the degree of labour market integration between regions.