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Research Associate in Measuring The Great Divergence: a Study of Global Standards of Living, 1500-1950
Oxford Road, Manchester

Job reference: HUM-018732

Location: Oxford Road, Manchester

Closing date (DD/MM/YYYY): 28/04/2022

Salary: Grade 6 £33,309 to £35,326 per annum, depending on relevant experience

Employment type: Fixed Term

Faculty/Organisation: Humanities

Division: Economics

Hours Per Week: Full Time

Contract Duration: From 1 August 2022 until 31 July 2024

School / Directorate: School of Social Sciences

A Research Associate is required to work on the ESRC-funded project, Measuring the Great Divergence: A study of global standards of living, 1500-1950 directed by Nuno Palma in the Department of Economics, University of Manchester.

This project will analyse long-term living standards across locations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas which were part of the former Portuguese empire and compare them with counterparts from other regions of the world. Portuguese overseas exploration and the establishment of colonial outposts in Africa, Asia, and Brazil created the first and longest lasting modern European empire (1415-1999).

This longevity provides outstanding and diverse information for the enduring debate on the ‘Great Divergence’ - how and why Europe developed earlier and higher than other parts of the world. It will combine colonial records and published sources from governments, merchants, and travellers to assemble real wage data in five key cities from the Portuguese Empire– Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Luanda (in modern Angola in West Africa), Mozambique island (now part of Mozambique, in East Africa), Goa (incorporated into modern India in 1961), and Macao (Portuguese territory until 1999; now under Chinese jurisdiction). This will be combined with the creation of site- and time-specific subsistence baskets in order to establish welfare ratios and real wage data for both skilled and unskilled labourers. The temporal and geographic coverage provided by these five cases will provide a detailed overview of living standards across the former Portuguese empire, thereby enabling comparisons with other empires for which scholarship is much more established. Moreover, given that only Portuguese sources can be used for this purpose for the sixteenth century, the results will provide the earliest quantification of living standards for both African locations and Brazil. Our findings will be of paramount importance for modern policy debates such as the value of slave trade compensations to developing countries, given that this global scale trade is often claimed to explain the origins of the accumulated wealth of Western countries.

Working under the guidance of the P.I., you will have responsibility for collecting and analysing data, assembling indexes of prices and wages, travelling to archives and consulting secondary sources in libraries. You will also participate in the project’s outputs such as the writing of articles and book chapters; you will also participate in outreach activities such as dissemination in social media and public exhibitions and conferences and co-teach one module.

As an equal opportunities employer we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of age, sex, gender (or gender identity), ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status.  All appointments are made on merit.

Our University is positive about flexible working – you can find out more here

Blended working arrangements may be considered

Please note that we are unable to respond to enquiries, accept CVs or applications from Recruitment Agencies.

Enquiries about the vacancy, shortlisting and interviews:

Name: Nuno Palma


General enquiries:


Technical support:

This vacancy will close for applications at midnight on the closing date.

Please see the link below for the Further Particulars document which contains the person specification criteria.


The closing date for this job has now passed.