Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/20

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10
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

economist, is also the authority for the statement that the average daily wages of work-women in France engaged in the manufacture of clothing, lace, embroideries, laundry-work, and the like, increased 94 per cent between the years 1844 and 1872. In the cotton-mills at Mülhausen, Germany, the rates of increase in wages between 1835 and 1880 range between 60 and 256 per cent, the increase in the later years, as in other countries, having been particularly noticeable.

Accepting the wage statistics of France (and they are official), it would, therefore, appear that the rise of wages in that country during the years above reviewed was greater than was experienced in either England or the United States.

One factor which has undoubtedly contributed somewhat to the almost universal rise of wages during the last quarter of the century has been the immense progress that has been made in the abolition of human slavery—absolute, as well as in its modified forms of serfdom and peonage—which thirty years ago existed unimpaired over no inconsiderable areas of the earth's surface, and exerted a powerful influence for the degradation of labor and reduction of average wages to a minimum.

Relation of Wages to Living.—All conclusions as to the effect of changes in the rates of wages in any country are, however, incomplete, unless accompanied by data which permit of a conversion of wages into living, and these, in the case of the United States and for the period from 1860 to 1885, have been furnished by Mr. William M. Grosvenor, through a careful tabulation of the prices of two hundred commodities, embracing nearly all those in common use. From these comparisons it appears, that, if the purchasing power of one dollar in gold coin in May, 1860, be taken as the standard—or as one hundred cents' worth—the corresponding purchasing power of a like dollar in the year 1885 was 26.44 per cent greater. The artisan in Massachusetts in this latter year, therefore, could either "have largely raised the standard of his living, or, on the same standard, could have saved one third of his wages." Similar investigations instituted in Great Britain (and which had been before noticed) indicate corresponding results.

Another conclusion of Mr. Atkinson would also seem to be incapable of contravention, namely: That the greatly increased product of the fields, forests, factories, and mines of the United States which has occurred during the period from 1860 to 1885 "must have been mostly consumed by those who performed the actual work, because they constitute so large a proportion—substantially about ninety per cent—of the whole number of persons by whom such products are consumed," and that "no other evidence is needed to prove that the working man and woman of