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The Trade Boards Act of 1909 and the Alleviation of Household Poverty



This article examines the effects of the 1909 Trade Boards Act on women's wage rates and income contributions to poor households. The Act established boards charged with setting minimum hourly wages in selected low-paid trades, and the majority of workers affected before the First World War were women. Many of the women whose wages were raised by the Act were the wives and daughters of low-skilled workers, while many others were sole earners who supported children or elderly parents. Our main finding is that the Trade Boards Act was effective in reducing household poverty rates among the women whose wages it would have increased.