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Technical Change and the Demand for Skills during the Second Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Merchant Marine, 1891-1912

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  • Aimee Chin

    (University of Houston)

  • Chinhui Juhn

    (University of Houston)

  • Peter Thompson

    (Florida International University)

Abstract

Using a large, individual-level wage data set, we examine the impact of a major technological innovation-the steam engine-on the demand for skills in the merchant shipping industry. We find that the technical change created a new demand for engineers, a skilled occupation. It had a deskilling effect on production work-moderately skilled able-bodied seamen were replaced by unskilled engine room operatives. On the other hand, able-bodied seamen, carpenters, and mates employed on steam vessels earned a premium relative to their counterparts on sail vessels, and this appears partly related to skill. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Aimee Chin & Chinhui Juhn & Peter Thompson, 2006. "Technical Change and the Demand for Skills during the Second Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Merchant Marine, 1891-1912," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 572-578, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:3:p:572-578
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    Cited by:

    1. Ojala, Jari & Pehkonen, Jaakko & Eloranta, Jari, 2016. "Deskilling and decline in skill premium during the age of sail: Swedish and Finnish seamen, 1751–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 85-94.
    2. Gray, Rowena, 2013. "Taking technology to task: The skill content of technological change in early twentieth century United States," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 351-367.
    3. Pehkonen, Jaakko, 2014. "Establishment size and task-specific wages: Evidence from historical contract data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 48-50.
    4. 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.
    5. Hynninen, Sanna-Mari & Ojala, Jari & Pehkonen, Jaakko, 2013. "Technological change and wage premiums: Historical evidence from linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-11.
    6. Darrell J. Glaser & Ahmed S. Rahman, 2012. "Naval Engineering and Labor Specialization during the Industrial Revolution," Departmental Working Papers 38, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.

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