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Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution

  • Sascha O. Becker
  • Erik Hornung
  • Ludger Woessmann

Research increasingly stresses the role of human capital in modern economic development. Existing historical evidence -- mostly from British textile industries -- however, rejects that formal education was important for the Industrial Revolution. Our new evidence from technological follower Prussia uses a unique school enrollment and factory employment database linking 334 counties from pre-industrial 1816 to two industrial phases in 1849 and 1882. Using pre-industrial education as instrument for later education and controlling extensively for pre-industrial development, we find that basic education is significantly associated with nontextile industrialization in both phases of the Industrial Revolution. Panel data models with county fixed effects confirm the results. (JEL I20, J24, N13, N33, N63)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 92-126

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:3:y:2011:i:3:p:92-126
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.3.3.92
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  1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
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  7. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2012. "Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20400, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Ros s, Joan R., 1998. "Measuring the contribution of human capital to the development of the Catalan factory system (1830 61)," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 25-48, April.
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  12. Becker, Sascha & Hornung, Erik & Woessmann, Ludger, 2009. "Catch Me If You Can: Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revoluti on," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2009-19, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  13. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
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  17. Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 1-17, March.
  18. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2006. "Das Human-Kapital: A Theory of the Demise of the Class Structure," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 85-117.
  19. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2006. "Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_003, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  20. Bessen, James, 2003. "Technology and Learning by Factory Workers: The Stretch-Out at Lowell, 1842," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 33-64, March.
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  23. Kindleberger, Charles P, 1995. "Technological Diffusion: European Experience to 1850," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 229-42, September.
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