Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations


Why has work been valued and compensated in very different ways over the past five centuries? Why do people’s working conditions vary so widely from slavery to well-paid wage labour? And how can people individually or collectively influence these conditions? Hoping to answer these questions, the IISH is working closely with researchers on other continents to gather and analyse data about social and economic changes all over the world since 1500. This concerns labour relations, individual life cycles, survival strategies, and collective actions, as well as time series of wages, prices, productivity, gender relations, life expectancies, and literacy.

The work and labour relations perspective is essential to discover how inequality comes about and is perpetuated, within and between societies. Through this research, the Institute aims to contribute to current social discussions about social inequality, economic growth, the environment, globalization, migration, and democracy. Read more about the IISH research.

For more information see the position paper by Marcel van der Linden Globalizing Labour Historiography: The IISH Approach and the paper by Jan Luiten van Zanden On global economic history; a personal view on an agenda for future research.

For queries:

Research projects




The International Review of Social History, and books, journals, online publications published on behalf of the IISH. See also the publications by IISH research staff

Conferences, Workshops

International networks