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The race between the snail and the tortoise: skill premium and early industrialization in Italy (1861–1913)

Author

Listed:
  • Giovanni Federico

    (New York University Abu Dhabi and CEPR)

  • Alessandro Nuvolari

    (Institute of Economics, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies)

  • Leonardo Ridolfi

    (Institute of Economics, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies)

  • Michelangelo Vasta

    (University of Siena)

Abstract

In this paper, we estimate series of the skill premium for Italy during the early stages of the industrialization with a refined version of the regression approach originally introduced by Clark (J Polit Econ 113(6):1307–1340, 2005). We compute series for the whole country as well as separate series for macro-regions and for construction and manufacturing, and, within manufacturing, we estimate high and low skill premia for blue collars. We interpret the results with an extended version of the classic Katz and Autor (in: Ashenfelter, Card (eds) Handbook of labor economics, Elsevier, Dordrecht, pp 1463–1555, 1999) framework. The overall premium remained stable until the 1890s and then declined for the joint effect of migrations (almost exclusively of unskilled workers) and the rise in literacy, which was not compensated by the modest increase in industrial employment.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:cliomt:v:15:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1007_s11698-019-00200-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s11698-019-00200-2
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human capital; Inequality; Labour markets; Skill premium; Technological progress; Wages;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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