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Luddites and the Demographic Transition

  • O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj
  • Rahman, Ahmed
  • Taylor, Alan M.

Technological change was unskilled-labor-biased during the early Industrial Revolution, but is skill-biased today. This is not embedded in extant unified growth models. We develop a model which can endogenously account for these facts, where factor bias reflects profit maximizing decisions by innovators. Endowments dictate that the early Industrial Revolution be unskilled-labor-biased. Increasing basic knowledge causes a growth takeoff, an income-led demand for fewer educated children, and the transition to skill-biased technological change. The simulated model tracks British industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries and generates a demographic transition without relying on either rising skill premia or exogenous educational supply shocks.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7045.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7045
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