Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses
Manufacturing firm data for 1820 to 1850 are employed to investigate the role of women and children in the industrialization of the American Northeast. The principal findings include: (1) Women and children composed a major share of the entire manufacturing labor force; (2) their employment was closely associated with production processes used by large establishments, both mechanized and non-mechanized; (3) the wage of females (and boys) increased relative to that of men with industrial development; and (4) female labor force participation in industrial counties was substantial. These findings bear on the nature of technical change during early industrialization and why American industrial development was initially concentrated in the Northeast.
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