IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Flexible Supply of Apprenticeship in the British Industrial Revolution


  • Zeev, Nadav Ben
  • Mokyr, Joel
  • van der Beek, Karine


We use annual information on apprenticeships in England between 1710–1805 to estimate the dynamic supply-responsiveness in this market in the presence of the increasingly powerful technological shocks as the Industrial Revolution proceeded apace. Using both an Instrumental Variable method and a dynamic Vector Autoregression framework (VAR) system to identify the long-run response functions, we find evidence of an elastic supply, sufficiently high as to allow quantities to rise considerably in response to demand shocks. This finding lends support to the view that Britain's apprenticeship institution was the source of its advantage in skilled mechanical labor, so critical to its economic success.

Suggested Citation

  • Zeev, Nadav Ben & Mokyr, Joel & van der Beek, Karine, 2017. "Flexible Supply of Apprenticeship in the British Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 208-250, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:77:y:2017:i:01:p:208-250_00

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Claude Diebolt & Charlotte Chapelain & Audrey Rose Menard, 2021. "Neither the elite, nor the mass. The rise of intermediate human capital during the French industrialization process," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 15(1), pages 167-202, January.
    2. Nuvolari, Alessandro & Tartari, Valentina & Tranchero, Matteo, 2019. "Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using a composite indicator of patent quality," CEPR Discussion Papers 13958, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Pencho Penchev, 2017. "Of the Essence and Meaning of Economic History," Proceedings of the Centre for Economic History Research, Centre for Economic History Research, vol. 2, pages 9-34, November.
    4. Alexandra de Pleijt & Alessandro Nuvolari & Jacob Weisdorf, 2020. "Human Capital Formation During the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the use of Steam Engines," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 829-889.
    5. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke & Joel Mokyr, 2018. "Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Preindustrial Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(1), pages 1-70.
    6. James Harrigan & Ariell Reshef & Farid Toubal, 2018. "Techies, Trade, and Skill-Biased Productivity," NBER Working Papers 25295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Philip T. Hoffman, 2020. "The Great Divergence: Why Britain Industrialised First," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 60(2), pages 126-147, July.
    8. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2018. "Notes on Guilds on the Eve of the French Revoloution," Working Papers 201804, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    9. Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia & Alfonso Díez-Minguela & Julio Martinez-Galarraga & Daniel A. Tirado-Fabregat, 2018. "Two stories, one fate: Age-heaping and literacy in Spain, 1877-1930," Working Papers 0139, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    10. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2020. "The Mechanics of the Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 202016, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    11. William F. Maloney & Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 2017. "Engineering Growth: Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas," CESifo Working Paper Series 6339, CESifo.
    12. Giovanni Federico & Alessandro Nuvolari & Leonardo Ridolfi & Michelangelo Vasta, 2021. "The race between the snail and the tortoise: skill premium and early industrialization in Italy (1861–1913)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
    13. Matthias Doepke & Joel Mokyr & David de la Croix, 2013. "Apprenticeship and Technological Progress in the Malthusian World," 2013 Meeting Papers 76, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Èric Gómez-i-Aznar, 2019. "Human capital at the beginnings of the 18th century Catalonia: age-heaping and numeracy in a changing economy," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1904, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:77:y:2017:i:01:p:208-250_00. 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: . General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Keith Waters (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.