Casualised wage labour is not only a phenomenon of the modern era. It has existed for thousands of years, and we read about it in the New Testament, probably written around 200 AD. In 15th and 16th century western Europe, the number of landless labourers working in enterprises outside the manorial system and outside the guilds were very large. Only the highest strata of the working class could escape from the existential insecurity. It was much later, among the 19th century skilled labourers, that the ideal of the male breadwinner [or the family wage] became popular – the idea that the wage of the husband should be sufficient to support a wife and small children.