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Luddites, the industrial revolution, and the demographic transition

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  • Kevin O’Rourke
  • Ahmed Rahman
  • Alan Taylor

Abstract

Technological change was unskilled-labor-biased during the early industrial revolution, but is skill-biased today. This implies a rich set of non-monotonic macroeconomic dynamics which are not embedded in extant unified growth models. We present historical evidence and develop a model which can endogenously account for these facts, where factor bias reflects profit-maximizing decisions by innovators. In a setup with directed technological change, and fixed as well as variable costs of education, initial endowments dictate that the early industrial revolution be unskilled-labor-biased. Increasing basic knowledge then causes a growth takeoff, an income-led demand for fewer but more educated children, and a transition to skill-biased technological change in the long run. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin O’Rourke & Ahmed Rahman & Alan Taylor, 2013. "Luddites, the industrial revolution, and the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 373-409, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:18:y:2013:i:4:p:373-409
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-013-9096-y
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    2. Seth G. Benzell & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Guillermo LaGarda & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2015. "Robots Are Us: Some Economics of Human Replacement," NBER Working Papers 20941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Sibylle & Prettner, Klaus & Tscheuschner, Paul, 2023. "The scientific revolution and its implications for long-run economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 168(C).
    4. Kevin H. O’Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "Trade, Technology and the Great Divergence," Departmental Working Papers 35, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Bengtsson, Erik, 2016. "Inequality and the working class in Scandinavia 1800 to 1910 - Workers' share of growing income," Lund Papers in Economic History 142, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    7. Attar, M. Aykut, 2015. "Entrepreneurship, knowledge, and the industrial revolution," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 9, pages 1-54.
    8. Florian Brugger & Christian Gehrke, 2017. "Skilling and Deskilling Technological Change in Classical Economic Theory and Its Empirical Evidence," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2017-02, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
    9. Emmanuel Bovari & Victor Court, 2019. "Energy, knowledge, and demo-economic development in the long run: a unified growth model," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01698755, HAL.
    10. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Rise of Women in Unified Growth Theory: French Development Process and Policy Implications," MPRA Paper 73864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Ahmed S. Rahman, 2017. "Rise of the Machines Redux – Education, Technological Transition and Long-run Growth," Departmental Working Papers 61, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    12. Alexandra M. de Pleijt & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2017. "Human capital formation from occupations: the ‘deskilling hypothesis’ revisited," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 11(1), pages 1-30, January.
    13. Antonio Martins-Neto & Nanditha Mathew & Pierre Mohnen & Tania Treibich, 2021. "Is There Job Polarization in Developing Economies? A Review and Outlook," CESifo Working Paper Series 9444, CESifo.
    14. Guldi, Melanie & Rahman, Ahmed S., 2022. "Little Divergence in America — Market Access and Demographic Transition in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 15215, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa & Inekwe, John & Ivanovski, Kris & Smyth, Russell, 2023. "Human capital and energy consumption: Six centuries of evidence from the United Kingdom," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
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    17. Feldman, Naomi E. & van der Beek, Karine, 2016. "Skill choice and skill complementarity in eighteenth century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 94-113.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Skill bias; Directed technological change; Endogenous growth; Demography; Unified growth theory; O31; O33; J13; J24; N10;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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