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Human capital formation in the long run: evidence from average years of schooling in England, 1300–1900

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  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt

    () (Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Abstract

In this paper, I quantify average years of education present in the English population between 1307 and 1900. The estimates are based on extensive source material on literacy rates, number of primary and secondary schools and enrolment figures. An additional distinction is made on the basis of gender and of level of schooling. The trends in the data are indicative of significant increases in the level of educational attainment during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This remarkable growth in schooling was followed by a strong decline in average years of education after ca. 1720. Whilst one in seven boys entered secondary schooling at the end of seventeenth century, this had decreased to one in thirty by the 1880s. Overall, the trends in the data suggest that education was beneficial to pre-industrial economic growth, but this was not sustained following the initial stage of the industrialisation process.

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  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt, 2018. "Human capital formation in the long run: evidence from average years of schooling in England, 1300–1900," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 12(1), pages 99-126, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:cliome:v:12:y:2018:i:1:p:99-126
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-016-0156-3
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human capital; Industrial revolution; Economic growth; England;

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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