Human Capital Formation during the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Use of Steam Engines
Alexandra de Pleijt (),
Alessandro Nuvolari and
CAGE Online Working Paper Series from Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE)
This paper explores the effect of technological change on human capital formation during the early phases of England’s Industrial Revolution. Following the methodology used in Franck and Galor (2016), we consider the adoption of steam engines as an indicator of technical change, examining the correlation between industrialisation and human capital by performing cross-sectional regression analyses using county-level variation in the number of steam engines installed in England by 1800. Using exogenous variation in carboniferous rock strata as an instrument for the regional distribution of steam engines, we find that technological change as captured by steam technology significantly improved the average working skills of the labour force. In particular, places with more steam engines had lower shares of unskilled workers and higher shares of highly-skilled mechanical workmen deemed important by Mokyr (2005) in the Industrial Revolution. Technological change was, however, not conducive to elementary education. Literacy rates and school enrollment rates were not systematically different in places with more steam engines. This diverse response to new technology highlights the ambiguous effects of early industrialisation on the formation of human capital.
Keywords: Economic Growth; Education; Human Capital; Industrialisation; Technological Progress; Steam Engines JEL Classification: J82; N33; O14; O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Journal Article: Human Capital Formation During the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the use of Steam Engines (2020)
Working Paper: Human Capital Formation during the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Use of Steam Engines (2018)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cge:wacage:294
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