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The race between the snail and the tortoise: skill premium and early industrialization in Italy (1861–1913)

Giovanni Federico (), Alessandro Nuvolari (), Leonardo Ridolfi () and Michelangelo Vasta ()
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Giovanni Federico: New York University Abu Dhabi and CEPR
Leonardo Ridolfi: Institute of Economics, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies

Cliometrica, 2021, vol. 15, issue 1, No 1, 42 pages

Abstract: Abstract In this paper, we estimate series of the skill premium for Italy during the early stages of the industrialization with a refined version of the regression approach originally introduced by Clark (J Polit Econ 113(6):1307–1340, 2005). We compute series for the whole country as well as separate series for macro-regions and for construction and manufacturing, and, within manufacturing, we estimate high and low skill premia for blue collars. We interpret the results with an extended version of the classic Katz and Autor (in: Ashenfelter, Card (eds) Handbook of labor economics, Elsevier, Dordrecht, pp 1463–1555, 1999) framework. The overall premium remained stable until the 1890s and then declined for the joint effect of migrations (almost exclusively of unskilled workers) and the rise in literacy, which was not compensated by the modest increase in industrial employment.

Keywords: Human capital; Inequality; Labour markets; Skill premium; Technological progress; Wages (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N33 O14 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s11698-019-00200-2

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