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Industrialization as a Deskilling Process? Steam Engines and Human Capital in XIXth Century France

Author

Listed:
  • Claude Diebolt

    (BETA, University of Strasbourg Strasbourg, France)

  • Charlotte Le Chapelain

    (CLHDPP-BETA, University Lyon III)

  • Audrey-Rose Menard

    (LEMNA, University of Nantes)

Abstract

Was technological progress conducive to human capital accumulation or was industrialization a deskilling process? Our paper investigates the effect of the French industrialization process on human capital accumulation throughout the nineteenth century. The novelty of the research is twofold: (i) we explore the deskilling hypothesis for the whole process of industrialization by implementing a panel analysis; (ii) we introduce a disaggregated human capital perspective to examine changes in skills demand at different stages of the process. Our analysis builds upon a new comprehensive dataset providing an exhaustive assessment of the diffusion of the steam technology in France at the county (Département) level over the 1839-1900 period. We use exogenous geographic variations as an instrument for the number of steam engines erected in each French department. We perform panel and cross-section regression analyses to compare the effect of technological change on basic vs. intermediate human capital accumulation. Our contribution reveals that French industrialization was not deskilling but that a shift in the type of the skills demanded occurred in the second half on the nineteenth century.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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 07-17, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
  • Handle: RePEc:afc:wpaper:07-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Schools without a law: primary education in France from the Revolution to the Guizot Law," PSE Working Papers halshs-02093546, HAL.
    2. Tomas Cvrcek & Miroslav Zajicek, 2019. "The rise of public schooling in nineteenth-century Imperial Austria: Who gained and who paid?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(3), pages 367-403, September.
    3. Baten, Jörg & Keywood, Thomas, 2019. "Elite Violence and Elite Numeracy in Europe from 500 to 1900 CE: A Co-Evolution?," CEPR Discussion Papers 14013, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Schools without a law: primary education in France from the Revolution to the Guizot Law," Working Papers halshs-02093546, HAL.
    5. 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.
    6. Adrien Montalbo, 2018. "Industrial activities and primary schooling in early nineteenth-century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-01826346, HAL.
    7. Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Education and economic development. The influence of primary schooling on municipalities in nineteenth-century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-02286126, HAL.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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