IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/spr/cliomt/v11y2017i1d10.1007_s11698-016-0140-y.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Human capital formation from occupations: the ‘deskilling hypothesis’ revisited

Author

Listed:
  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt

    (University of Utrecht
    London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Jacob L. Weisdorf

    (University of Southern Denmark
    CEPR)

Abstract

We use HISCLASS to code the occupational titles of over 30,000 English male workers according to the skill content of their work. We then track the evolution of the sampled working skills across three centuries of English history, from 1550 to 1850. We observe a modest rise in the share of ‘high-quality workmen’ deemed necessary by Mokyr and others to facilitate the Industrial Revolution, including machine erectors and operators. But we also find remarkable growth in the share of unskilled workers, rising from 20 % in the late sixteenth century to nearly 40 % in the early nineteenth century, caused mainly by falling shares of semi-skilled, blue-collar workers. Close inspection of the occupational structures within the main sectors of production suggests that deskilling occurred in agriculture and industry alike, prompted by land concentration in agriculture and workshop-to-factory changes in industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2017. "Human capital formation from occupations: the ‘deskilling hypothesis’ revisited," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(1), pages 1-30, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:11:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11698-016-0140-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s11698-016-0140-y
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11698-016-0140-y
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s11698-016-0140-y?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    2. Broadberry,Stephen & Campbell,Bruce M. S. & Klein,Alexander & Overton,Mark & van Leeuwen,Bas, 2015. "British Economic Growth, 1270–1870," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107070783, November.
    3. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    4. Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Sharp, Paul & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2011. "Survival of the richest? Social status, fertility and social mobility in England 1541-1824," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 365-392, December.
    5. Nuvolari, A., 2000. "The 'machine breakers' and the industrial revolution," Working Papers 00.11, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
    6. Humphries,Jane, 2010. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521847568, November.
    7. Karine van der Beek, "undated". "England's Eighteenth Century Demand for High-Quality Workmanship: Evidence from Apprenticeship, 1710-1770," Working Papers 2013-015, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    8. Clark, Gregory & Hamilton, Gillian, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 707-736, September.
    9. Allen, Robert C., 2009. "Engels' pause: Technical change, capital accumulation, and inequality in the british industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 418-435, October.
    10. Clark, Gregory & Hamilton, Gillian, 2006. "Survival of the Richest: The Malthusian Mechanism in Pre-Industrial England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(03), pages 707-736, September.
    11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732.
    12. R. A. Houston, 1982. "The Development of Literacy: Northern England, 1640–1750," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 35(2), pages 199-216, May.
    13. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton University Press.
    14. 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.
    15. Jane Humphries, 2013. "Childhood and child labour in the British industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(2), pages 395-418, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Education and economic development. The influence of primary schooling on municipalities in nineteenth-century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-02286126, HAL.
    2. 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.
    3. Claude Diebolt & Charlotte Le Chapelain & Audrey-Rose Menard, 2017. "Industrialization as a Deskilling Process? Steam Engines and Human Capital in XIXth Century France," Working Papers of BETA 2017-17, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    4. Claude Diebolt & Charlotte Le Chapelain & Audrey Rose Menard, 2021. "Neither the elite, nor the mass. The rise of intermediate human capital during the French industrialization process," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 15(1), pages 167-202, January.
    5. Claude Diebolt & Charlotte Le Chapelain & Audrey Rose Menard, 2018. "Learning outside the factory: the impact of technological change on the rise of adult education in nineteenth-century France," Working Papers 02-18, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    6. Oliver Kovacs, 2019. "Big IFs in Productivity-Enhancing Industry 4.0," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 8(2), pages 1-17, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Baten, Jörg & de Pleijt, Alexandra, 2018. "Female autonomy generates superstars in long-term development: Evidence from 15th to 19th century Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 13348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Education and economic development. The influence of primary schooling on municipalities in nineteenth-century France," Working Papers halshs-02286126, HAL.
    10. 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.
    11. de Pleijt, Alexandra M., 2015. "Human capital and long run economic growth : Evidence from the stock of human capital in England, 1300-1900," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 229, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Bergoña Álvarez & Fernando Ramos Palencia, 2016. "The Role of human capital in pre-industrial societies: skills and earnings in eighteenth-century Castile (Spain)," Working Papers 0099, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    13. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Paul Sharp, 2020. "Standards of Living and Skill Premia in Eighteenth Century Denmark: What can we learn from a large microlevel wage database?," Working Papers 0180, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    14. Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia & Alfonso Díez-Minguela & Julio Martínez-Galarraga & Daniel A. Tirado, 2019. "The uneven transition towards universal literacy in Spain, 1860-1930," Working Papers 0173, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    15. Billington, Stephen D., 2021. "What explains patenting behaviour during Britain’s Industrial Revolution?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    16. Adrien Montalbo, 2018. "Industrial activities and primary schooling in early nineteenth-century France," Working Papers halshs-01826346, HAL.
    17. Meier zu Selhausen, Felix P. & van Leeuwen, Marco H.D. & Weisdorf, Jacob L., 2015. "Social Mobility among Christian Africans: Evidence from Ugandan Marriage Registers 1895-2011," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 239, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    18. Adrien Montalbo, 2018. "Industrial activities and primary schooling in early nineteenth-century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-01826346, HAL.
    19. 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.
    20. 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.
    21. Sara Horrell & Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf, 2022. "Beyond the male breadwinner: Life‐cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260–1850," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(2), pages 530-560, May.
    22. Monica Bozzano & Gabriele Cappelli, 2019. "The legacy of history or the outcome of reforms? Primary education and literacy in Liberal Italy (1871-1911)," Department of Economics University of Siena 801, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    23. Philips, Robin C. M. & Földvàri, Péter & Van Leeuwen, Bas, 2017. "Drivers of industrialisation: intersectoral evidence from the Low Countries in the nineteenth century," MPRA Paper 83304, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. de Pleijt, Alexandra M., 2015. "Human capital and long run economic growth : Evidence from the stock of human capital in England, 1300-1900," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 229, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. 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.
    3. Gregory Clark & Neil Cummins & Matthew Curtis, 2020. "Twins Support the Absence of Parity-Dependent Fertility Control in Pretransition Populations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(4), pages 1571-1595, August.
    4. Gregory Clark & Neil Cummins & Matthew Curtis, 0. "Twins Support the Absence of Parity-Dependent Fertility Control in Pretransition Populations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 0, pages 1-25.
    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. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Industrious Selection: Explaining Five Revolutions and Two Divergences in Eurasian Economic History within a Unified Growth Framework," MPRA Paper 73862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Klemp, Marc P B & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Fecundity, Fertility and Family Reconstitution Data: The Child Quantity-Quality Trade-O Revisite," CEPR Discussion Papers 9121, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Clark, Gregory, 2014. "The Industrial Revolution," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 217-262, Elsevier.
    9. Álvarez, Begoña & Palencia, Fernando Ramos, 2018. "Human capital and earnings in eighteenth-century Castile," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 105-133.
    10. Jakob B. Madsen & Fabrice Murtin, 2017. "British economic growth since 1270: the role of education," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 229-272, September.
    11. Jason Collins & Boris Baer & Ernst Juerg Weber, 2016. "Evolutionary Biology in Economics: A Review," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 92(297), pages 291-312, June.
    12. 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.
    13. Francesco Cinnirella & Marc Klemp & Jacob Weisdorf, 2017. "Malthus in the Bedroom: Birth Spacing as Birth Control in Pre-Transition England," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 413-436, April.
    14. Gregory Clark & Neil Cummins, 2015. "Malthus to modernity: wealth, status, and fertility in England, 1500–1879," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 3-29, January.
    15. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2021. "Fertility versus productivity: a model of growth with evolutionary equilibria," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(3), pages 1073-1104, July.
    16. de la Croix, David & Schneider, Eric & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2017. "'Decessit sine prole' - Childlessness, Celibacy, and Survival of the Richest in Pre-Industrial England," CEPR Discussion Papers 11752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Jane Humphries & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260–1850," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(623), pages 2867-2887.
    18. Marina E. Adshade, 2009. "The Rich Are Different From The Rest Of Us," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(4), pages 959-967, December.
    19. Sascha Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann & Sascha O. Becker, 2009. "Catch Me If You Can: Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revolution," CESifo Working Paper Series 2816, CESifo.
    20. Marc Klemp & Chris Minns & Patrick Wallis & Jacob Weisdorf, 2013. "Picking winners? The effect of birth order and migration on parental human capital investments in pre-modern England," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 210-232, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deskilling; HISCLASS; Human capital; Industrial Revolution; Occupations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:spr:cliomt:v:11:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11698-016-0140-y. 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: http://www.springer.com .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 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: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    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.