IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution

  • Morgan Kelly

    (Department of Economics, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland)

  • Joel Mokyr

    ()

    (Departments of Economics and History, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208)

  • Cormac Ó Gráda

    (Department of Economics, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland)

Many explanations have been offered for the British Industrial Revolution. This article points to the importance of human capital (broadly defined) and the quality of the British labor force on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. It shows that in terms of both physical quality and mechanical skills, British workers around 1750 were at a much higher level than their continental counterparts. As a result, new inventions—no matter where they originated—were adopted earlier, faster, and on a larger scale in Britain than elsewhere. The gap in labor quality is consistent with the higher wages paid in eighteenth-century Britain. The causes for the higher labor quality are explored and found to be associated with a higher level of nutrition and better institutions, especially England’s Poor Law and the superior functioning of its apprenticeship system.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-economics-080213-041042
Download Restriction: Full text downloads are only available to subscribers. Visit the abstract page for more information.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Annual Reviews in its journal Annual Review of Economics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (08)
Pages: 363-389

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:6:y:2014:p:363-389
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Annual Reviews 4139 El Camino Way Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

Web page: http://www.annualreviews.org

Order Information: Web: http://www.annualreviews.org/action/ecommerce

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gregory Clark, 1991. "Yields per acre in English agriculture, 1250-1860: evidence from labour inputs," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(3), pages 445-460, 08.
  2. Richard Hornbeck & Suresh Naidu, 2012. "When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South," NBER Working Papers 18296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen & Joachim Voth, 2007. "Poor, hungry and ignorant: Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780-1850," Economics Working Papers 1120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2011.
  4. Nicholas, Stephen & Steckel, Richard H., 1991. "Heights and Living Standards of English Workers During the Early Years of Industrializations, 1770–1815," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(04), pages 937-957, December.
  5. T. Paul Schultz, 2002. "Wage Gains Associated with Height as a Form of Health Human Capital," Working Papers 841, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  6. Garett Jones & W. Schneider, 2006. "Intelligence, Human Capital, and Economic Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 71-93, 03.
  7. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Health Human Capital, Height and Wages in China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 466-484.
  8. W. Walker Hanlon, 2015. "Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: Input Supplies and Directed Technical Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 67-100, 01.
  9. Kelly, Morgan & Ó Gráda, Cormac, 2013. "Numerare Est Errare: Agricultural Output and Food Supply in England Before and During the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(04), pages 1132-1163, December.
  10. Wallis, Patrick, 2008. "Apprenticeship and Training in Premodern England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 832-861, September.
  11. Humphries,Jane, 2010. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521847568, October.
  12. Christine MacLeod & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2009. "‘Glorious Times’: The Emergence of Mechanical Engineering in Early Industrial Britain, c. 1700-1850," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 52(3/4), pages 215-237.
  13. T. Paul Schultz, 2005. "Productive Benefits of Health: Evidence from Low-Income Countries," Working Papers 903, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  14. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
  15. Epstein, S. R., 1998. "Craft Guilds, Apprenticeship, and Technological Change in Preindustrial Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 684-713, September.
  16. Heyberger, Laurent, 2007. "Toward an anthropometric history of provincial France, 1780-1920," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 229-254, July.
  17. Garett Jones & W. Joel Schneider, 2010. "Iq In The Production Function: Evidence From Immigrant Earnings," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 743-755, 07.
  18. Gragnolati, Ugo & Moschella, Daniele & Pugliese, Emanuele, 2011. "The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(02), pages 455-460, June.
  19. Temin, Peter, 1966. "Labor Scarcity and the Problem of American Industrial Efficiency in the 1850's," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 277-298, September.
  20. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1975_30n1_0142 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. James Feyrer & Dimitra Politi & David N. Weil, 2013. "The Cognitive Effects of Micronutrient Deficiency: Evidence from Salt Iodization in the United States," NBER Working Papers 19233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521687850, October.
  23. Matossian, Mary Kilbourne, 1984. "Mold Poisoning and Population Growth in England and France, 1750–1850," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 669-686, September.
  24. Roderick Floud & Robert W. Fogel & Bernard Harris & Sok Chul Hong, 2011. "The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number foge10-1, Enero.
  25. Broadberry, Stephen & Campbell, Bruce M.S. & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 16-27.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:6:y:2014:p:363-389. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (http://www.annualreviews.org)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.