The prevalence of regional disparities in the past is generally acknowledged. We know less, however, about their subsequent disappearance, and in the face of vast amounts of price and wage observations, the historian has too often resigned himself to the task of compilation rather than generalisation. Thus, it is usually assumed, less often ascertained, that disparities prevailed in the earlier stages and that with industrialisation they have either disappeared or been sharply reduced. The corollary is the idea that industrialisation can be analysed as a case of market integration. The proposition runs as follows: industrialisation implies an exchange economy in which capital, labour and commodities are bought and sold in their respective markets. With increasing information and mobility of factors the price fluctuations should, so to speak, begin to get synchronised. Once, for instance, wages in the different labour markets begin to show strong co-variation in the various regions or industries, the observer would conclude that market integration had been established. By the same token, industrialisation could be said to have been completed, having imparted its ethos and pulse to all parts of the economy. In its simplest outline, then, the proposition is that the trends towards increasing co-variation in prices and wages may be used as a measuring rod for describing and analysing the process of industrialisation. Hence two sets of problems: first, do data on wages and prices show strong sectoral and regional disparities in fluctuations in the pre-industrial era?
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