Michael Adelsberger

Porträt von Michael Adelsberger



Michael Adelsberger studied Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna and Economics at the Vienna University of Business and Economics. From 2017 to 2020 he worked in an FWF-funded research project on “Prices and Wages in Salzburg and Vienna, 1450–1850” at the Department of Economic and Social History of the University of Vienna. Subsequently, he was a research assistant at the Johannes Kepler University Linz in a project called “Connectors between a Polycentric Empire and Global Markets, 1713-1815” funded by the FWF and has been teaching at the universities of Vienna and Salzburg. Since 2017 he has been organizing the Agrarian Studies Group and in 2020 his dissertation project has been awarded with the Theodor Körner Prize.

Research interests: His main research interests are economic and social history of pre-industrial Europe with focus on Vienna, the history of prices, wages and standards of living, as well as the history of economic development and market integration.

Current research project:  Vienna and the Little Divergence. Real Wage development, wage components and structure, 1527–1700
For the last couple of years, the so-called Little divergence, the different movement of real wages between various regions of Europe, has been debated lively in economic history. While the North Sea region represented foremost by London and Amsterdam escaped the low real wages of the early modern period, the rest of Europe lagged behind. These findings have been under critical scrutiny ever since, with reassessment and refinement of real wage series for a number of European cities and regions. However, a revision for Vienna’s pre-industrial economic performance is still pending. Apart from that, most of these studies focus on the price side of the real wage equation, while the representativeness of the wage series is often taken as a given. Here enters this thesis by testing and analyzing the development of Vienna’s real wages, paying closer attention to the primary sources and the local context. Especially the nominal wage side of the real wage construction will be scrutinized by analyzing labour markets, wages stemming from different occupations and various wage components, to obtain better insight in pre-modern Vienna’s labour market and wage structure. As previous comparative studies used consumer baskets for the construction of real wages that had not been representative for the area of Central Europe, including Vienna, the next step of this thesis will be to come up with the construction of a more adequate consumer basket for the Viennese economy. Thereby it is needed to scrutinize the previously used price series and design a basket that appropriately represents the local historical expenditure structure of a household. In the end, this thesis should help to get a more complete understanding of the development of the pre-industrial economy of Vienna and its position within the Little Divergence debate, and thus contribute to the discussion on differences in economic development in pre-modern Europe.


  • Der Lebensstandard in Wien in der zweiten Hälfte des 15. Jahrhunderts: Eine Annäherung über die Löhne des Wiener Pilgramhauses, in: Dirmeier, A. und Spoerer, M. (Hrsg.), Spital und Wirtschaft in der Vormoderne: Sozial-karitative Institutionen und ihre Rechnungslegung als Quelle für die Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet 2020, S. 283 – 305.
  • Together with Andreas Zechner and Elias Knapp, Prices and Wages in Salzburg and Vienna, c. 1450–1850. An Introduction to the Data, close to submission.
  • The Depth of Commodity Trade. Market Integration within Habsburg Central Europe and with Global Markets during the 18th Century. (forthcoming)