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Catch Me If You Can: Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revolution

  • Becker, Sascha O.

    ()

    (University of Warwick)

  • Hornung, Erik

    ()

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    ()

    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Existing evidence, mostly from British textile industries, rejects the importance of formal education for the Industrial Revolution. We provide new evidence from Prussia, a technological follower, where early-19th-century institutional reforms created the conditions to adopt the exogenously emerging new technologies. Our unique school-enrollment and factory-employment database links 334 counties from pre-industrial 1816 to two industrial phases in 1849 and 1882. Controlling extensively for pre-industrial development, we use pre-industrial education as an instrument to identify variation in later education that is exogenous to industrialization itself. We find that basic education significantly accelerated non-textile industrialization in both phases of the Industrial Revolution.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4556.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revolution' in: American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2011, 3 (3), 92-126
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4556
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