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Households accounts...

... tell the story of wellbeing of the citizens in the world.

Growth Incidence Curves

Long-run growth does not benefit all to the same extent
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Historical Household Budgets

Two Centuries of Well-being, Poverty and Inequality Around the World.

The Historical Household Budgets (HHB) project is an investigation of the long-run evolution of living standards around the world on the basis of household budgets. The HHB database contains hundreds of thousands of family-level records, covers two centuries (1800-today), and embraces the five continents of the globe. HHB researchers are interested in monetary indicators – income, wealth and expenditure, wages and prices – as well as in non-monetary dimensions of well-being, such as health and education outcomes, labor force participation, dwelling characteristics, and many others. This website is the official HHB hub, where data and sources are housed and made available, innovative methods and new findings are publicized. The writing of a new history of the well-being of world citizens has begun: all scholars are invited to join the HHB project and contribute to the on-going research. Inquire within.

Household Budgets Map

We have just updated our database and added new budgets. Browse the HHB map!


Latest news

HHB new Working Paper

Nov. 11, 2016

    “Between World War I and World War II, at the height of Fascism, droves of Italians abandoned the countryside and small villages to converge on the big cities of the centre and north of the country. […] Previously unpublished documentation found in Rome’s Capitoline Archives provides us with a very detailed view of the dual phenomenon of internal immigration and spontaneous slum settlements in Rome during Fascism.”


    The HHB working paper no.6 is an invitation to explore the roots of Rome’s informal settlements.

    HHBD update: new budgets from Senegal, 1950s

    Oct. 4, 2016

      Covering 136 families in the three cities of Dakar, Saint Louis and Thies in 1954-1955, this study stems from the willingness to promote household budget surveys in the so far neglected French West Africa. Among the three studies, a thorough report is available for the city of Thies for 43 Muslim families. Information include family structure, total income and expenditure but also food consumption (in terms of both expenditure and quantity), energy use, household maintenance and social and religious dues.

      The HHB team is still looking for the detailed records of the other 93 families. Given that the country gained ...

      HHB launches its Working Paper Series

      June 12, 2016

        With the Working Paper no. 1 - the HHB manifesto, "On Historical Household Budgets", authored by the PIs of the Project - HHB launches its dedicated WP Series.
        The Series is meant to host papers related to the study of household budget and living standards, both in terms of economic and historical analysis, methodology or surveying the sources available. More information in the brand-new online hub of the Series, where soon you will find also the other forthcoming publications.

        Read the WP no. 1 also within the Working Papers of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, HHB's main partner and sponsor.

        HHBD update: new source from Czechoslovakia 1920s: the "Bulletin of the National Statistical Office"

        May 27, 2016

          Covering the years from 1920 to 1929, a new source about living standards in Czechoslovakia, obtained from the archives of the Czech Statistical Office based in Prague, will soon join the HHB database.
          This series of publications reporting household budgets, published almost regularly from 1922 to 1931, is extremely rich, with details about household composition, occupations, revenues, expenditures, and food and beverage consumption. On average, about one hundred variables per year.
          Provided that Czechoslovakia became a sovereign state in 1918, as a consequence of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI, this source represents a complete novelty for the ...

          Prof. Jacob Weisdorf (University of Southern Denmark) joins HHB Researchers

          May 18, 2016

            HHB welcomes Jacob Weisdorf - Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Denmark - as a new HHB Researcher.

            Prof. Weisdorf is also a research fellow at CEPR in London and a research associate of CAGE in Warwick. He holds a doctoral degree in Economics from the University of Copenhagen and one in economic history from Lund University. His main research area is long-run economic growth, with particular focus on the economic and demographic history of England. He currently works on a project using historical marriage data from Africa with Felix Meier zu Selhausen and organizes the Sound Workshop and the WEast Workshop.

            The digitization and harmonization of Leplaysian family monographs has begun

            April 28, 2016

              HHB announces that the digitization of the Leplaysian family monographs has now started, beginning with the HHB record #1: the monograph authored by Ubaldino Peruzzi - future ministry within the first Italian government -, describing a family of sharecroppers living in Bagno a Ripoli, near Florence.
              Pierre Guillaume Frédéric Le Play (1805-1882) was an engineer, whose notoriety is due to his interest for sociology and for his studies of living conditions all over the world. He developed a specific research method, consisting in a very detailed scheme for the collection of household level data. Basing on this successful scheme, he ...

              HHB project at the 11th ESSHC conference in Valencia

              April 4, 2016

                Last week, Prof. Brian A'Hearn and Prof. Giovanni Vecchi have presented the HHB project at the 11th European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC), held in Valencia from March 30 to April 2, 2016, within the meeting on "Household Budgets and Living Standards during the Nineteenth- and Early-twentieth Centuries" (see the entire programme here).

                The ESSHC is organized by the International Institute of Social History (IISH), and its aim is to bring together scholars who explain historical phenomena using the methods of the social sciences. The conference is characterized by a lively, small group exchange, rather than in formal plenary ...

                Prof. Giovanni Federico (Pisa) joins HHB Advisory Board

                Oct. 30, 2014

                  HHB is delighted to announce that Professor Giovanni Federico has decided to join the Advisory Board of the project. Professor Federico is a Professor of Economic History at the University of Pisa. He is also currently President of the European Historical Economics Society. Among his copious academic production, he published an economic history of the silk industry (1997, CUP), and more recently a "monumental" history of agriculture from the 19th century (2008, PUP). Federico also adopted a sample of household budgets in a paper on the mercantilization of italian agriculture (1986, RSE).

                  Prof. Jane Humphries (Oxford) joins HHB Advisory Board

                  Oct. 24, 2014

                    HHB is delighted to announce that Professor Jane Humphries has decided to join the Advisory Board of the project. Professor Humphries is a fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford, where she teaches Economic History. She is also currently Associate Editor of Feminist Economics and member of the editorial boards of many other journals, such as Gender, Work and Organization and Explorations in Economic History. She has published widely on child labour during the British Industrial Revolution and on the role of gender and family in modern economic history - including a cornerstone paper on british household budgets (with ...

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