Measuring Wellbeing - Hot off the press...

... by Oxford University Press

Households accounts...

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

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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

Dr. Vasco Molini (World Bank) joins the HHB Researchers

Dec. 20, 2018

    HHB is glad to welcome Vasco Molini - Senior Economist at the World Bank - as a new HHB Researcher.


    Dr. Molini holds a PhD in Development Economics from the University of Florence, and has also held a post-doc position at Free University in Amsterdam.

    He focuses on policy analysis and research in development issues and has worked in Sub Saharan Africa and Maghreb region. His recent research agenda focuses on understanding the long-term determinants of inequality and polarization in Sub Saharan Africa.

    Prof. Federico Belotti awarded the 2018 Editors' Prize of the Stata Journal

    Dec. 18, 2018

      HHB is delighted to learn that Prof. Federico Belotti - co-Investigator of the HHB project and researcher at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - has been awarded the 2018 Editors' Prize of the Stata Journal, rewarding contributions to the Stata community in respect of one or more outstanding papers published in the Stata Journal in the previous three calendar years.


      Federico's research interests focus on microeconometric methods with applications in health, production, and spatial economics, while his methodological econometric work has been most recently on the analysis of panel data and has appeared in the Journal of Econometrics.


      To read ...

      HHBD update: The first Household Budget Survey of Bulgaria (1925)

      Oct. 10, 2018

        A new source from Bulgaria is now part of HHB Sources: the first Household Budget Survey from the country, dating back to 1925.


        The HBS report contains household-level microdata on 1,385 families, focusing both on income and on expenditures.



        Big thanks to the HHB Researcher Nikolay Bogatzky for his precious contribution

        Prof. Luis Bértola (Universidad de la República, Uruguay) joins the HHB Researchers

        Aug. 21, 2018

          HHB is glad to welcome Luis Bértola – Full Professor of Economic and Social History at the Department of Social Sciences of the Universidad de la República (Montevideo, Uruguay) – as a new HHB Researcher.


          His main research topics are comparative long-run development, inequality, and living standards, with a focus on Latin America. Prof. Bértola is the coordinator of MOxLAD (Montevideo-Oxford Latin America Economic History Database), and is also member of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London), of the Instituto Figuerola (Madrid), and of the Advisory Board of the Maddison Project.

          HHB Working Paper no. 9 now online

          May 23, 2018

            HHB Working Paper no. 9 – “No country for young people. Poverty and age in Italy, 1948-2018” – explores the changing risk of poverty for older and younger generations of Italians throughout the republican period.


            The authors show that poverty rates have decreased steadily for all age groups, but that youth has been left behind: by 2016, children aged 0-17 are 5 times likelier to be poor than someone in the age range of their grandparents – an intergenerational reversal of fortune that is unprecedented in Italy’s post-WW2 history.


            Massimo Baldini, Giulia Mancini, and Giovanni Vecchi also assess the ...

            HHB and historical family archives: the Pepi Archive of Florence

            May 16, 2018

              HHB continues to improve coverage of the right tail of the income distribution (the super-rich), with the goal of producing better estimates of economic inequality in the long run. For this, historical family archives are crucial: they preserve the family budgets of generations of noblemen and aristocrats.


              HHB will soon launch a project focused on the historical family archive of the Pepi family of Florence.


              The family dates back to the 11th century, and it is believed that its name derives from having had the monopoly of the pepper trade in Florence. A prominent exponent is Ruberto Pepi ...

              HHBD update – Brazilian rural household budgets: records of farm Ibicaba (1891-1950)

              May 15, 2018

                Registers and records of Brazilian plantations in the 19th century, especially in the province of São Paulo, provide a unique source for the compilation of historical household budgets. Since the 1840s, coffee planters employed workers – mainly European immigrants – using contracts in which labor and credit were interlinked. Such a system involved methodical bookkeeping of households’ debts and expenditures. Given the distance of the farms from urban centers, the farms also frequently supplied consumption goods to the families, so that the records frequently detail individual items consumed by the families.  


                In their paper (forthcoming in the HHB Working Paper Series), Bruno ...

                HHB and the super-rich

                May 11, 2018

                  The super-rich are notoriously under-represented in household expenditure surveys (see here), which can lead to biased inequality estimates. The budget of Filippo Massimiliano del Drago Biscia Gentili, Prince of Mazzano and Antuni, and his family, for the year 1881, is an example of how the HHB project overcomes this issue.


                  The Prince, born in Rome in 1824, was a descendant of Augustus III King of Poland and of Louis IX King of France. His wife, María Milagros Muñoz y Borbón, was the daughter of María Cristina de Borbón, Princess of the Two Sicilies and Regent of Spain between 1833 ...

                  Prof. Xavier Ramos (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) is a new HHB Fellow

                  March 20, 2018

                    HHB is delighted to welcome Xavier Ramos – Full Professor of Economics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – among the HHB Fellows.


                    Prof. Ramos earned his BA from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in 1992, his MSc from the University of York in 1994, and his PhD in Economics from the the University of Essex (ISER) in 1998.


                    Economic inequity is one of his main concerns and takes much of his research time and effort. He is currently working on equality of opportunity and intergenerational mobility. His research has been published in monographs, book chapters, and in ...

                    HHB Working Paper no. 8 now online

                    Dec. 21, 2017

                      HHB Working Paper no. 8 explores a new facet of historical household budgets: their potential as a source of information on women’s lives, experiences and economic activities throughout history. 


                      The paper focuses on women’s labor force participation in Italy’s last 150 years: despite its significance for the economic history of women, long-run evidence for this indicator is still uncertain, because official statistics fail to capture the full extent of women’s labor force participation as we go back in time.


                      This paper offers a first-time empirical assessment of the existing historical evidence on Italian women’s work, and constructs ...

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