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Flexible Supply of Apprenticeship in the British Industrial Revolution

Nadav Ben Zeev, Joel Mokyr and Karine van der Beek ()

The Journal of Economic History, 2017, vol. 77, issue 1, 208-250

Abstract: We use annual information on apprenticeships in England between 1710–1805 to estimate the dynamic supply-responsiveness in this market in the presence of the increasingly powerful technological shocks as the Industrial Revolution proceeded apace. Using both an Instrumental Variable method and a dynamic Vector Autoregression framework (VAR) system to identify the long-run response functions, we find evidence of an elastic supply, sufficiently high as to allow quantities to rise considerably in response to demand shocks. This finding lends support to the view that Britain's apprenticeship institution was the source of its advantage in skilled mechanical labor, so critical to its economic success.

Date: 2017
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