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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. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Catch Me If You Can: Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revolution," CESifo Working Paper Series 2816, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Do Better Schools Lead to More Growth? Cognitive Skills, Economic Outcomes, and Causation," Discussion Papers 08-015, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," Working Papers 808, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Galor, Oded, 2004. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 4581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Becker, Sascha O. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," Munich Reprints in Economics 20255, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Jess Benhabib & Mark Spiegel, 2002. "Human capital and technology diffusion," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  7. 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.
  8. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273.
  9. 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.
  10. Zilibotti, Fabrizio & Aghion, Philippe & Acemoglu, Daron, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4554122, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2006. "Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 319-361, December.
  12. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Das Human Kapital," CEPR Discussion Papers 2701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Becker, Sascha & Francesco, Cinirella & Woessmann, Ludger, 2009. "The Trade-off between Fertility and Education: Evidence from before the Demographic Transition," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2009-17, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  14. Lenoir, Timothy, 1998. "Revolution from Above: The Role of the State in Creating the German Research System, 1810-1910," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 22-27, May.
  15. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2008. "Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions and the Great Divergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
  17. Robert C. Allen, 2003. "Progress and poverty in early modern Europe," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 403-443, 08.
  18. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
  19. 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.
  20. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working-Class in England, 1209-2004," Working Papers 539, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  21. Sandberg, Lars G., 1979. "The Case of the Impoverished Sophisticate: Human Capital and Swedish Economic Growth before World War I," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(01), pages 225-241, March.
  22. N. F. R. Crafts, 1977. "Industrial Revolution in England and France: Some Thoughts on the Question, “Why was England First?”," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 30(3), pages 429-441, 08.
  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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