IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/20219.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment

Author

Listed:
  • Mara P. Squicciarini
  • Nico Voigtländer

Abstract

While human capital is a strong predictor of economic development today, its importance for the Industrial Revolution has typically been assessed as minor. To resolve this puzzling contrast, we differentiate average human capital (literacy) from upper-tail knowledge. As a proxy for the historical presence of knowledge elites, we use city-level subscriptions to the famous Encyclopédie in mid-18th century France. We show that subscriber density is a strong predictor of city growth after the onset of French industrialization. Alternative measures of development such as soldier height, disposable income, and industrial activity confirm this pattern. Initial literacy levels, on the other hand, are associated with development in the cross-section, but they do not predict growth. Finally, by joining data on British patents with a large French firm survey from the 1840s, we shed light on the mechanism: upper-tail knowledge raised productivity in innovative industrial technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2014. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," NBER Working Papers 20219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20219
    Note: DAE EFG
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20219.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2012. "Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 267-321, December.
    2. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    3. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596.
    4. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
    5. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & Tarek A. Hassan & James A. Robinson, 2011. "Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 895-946.
    7. Taylor, Alan M., 1999. "Sources of convergence in the late nineteenth century," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1621-1645, October.
    8. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
    9. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
    10. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2014. "Medieval Universities, Legal Institutions, and the Commercial Revolution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 823-887.
    11. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    12. Antras, Pol & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2003. "Factor prices and productivity growth during the British industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 52-77, January.
    13. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2012. "Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1339-1392.
    14. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2015. "The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 263-303, September.
    15. François Crouzet, 2003. "The historiography of French economic growth in the nineteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(2), pages 215-242, May.
    16. Gregory Clark, 2005. "The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209-2004," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1307-1340, December.
    17. Jeremiah E. Dittmar, 2011. "Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of The Printing Press," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1133-1172.
    18. Tommy E. Murphy, 2010. "Old Habits Die Hard (Sometimes) Can département heterogeneity tell us something about the French fertility decline??," Working Papers 364, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    19. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
    20. Nuvolari, Alessandro & Tartari, Valentina, 2011. "Bennet Woodcroft and the value of English patents, 1617-1841," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 97-115, January.
    21. Daniel Cohen & Marcelo Soto, 2007. "Growth and human capital: good data, good results," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 51-76, March.
    22. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Human Capital and Regional Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 105-164.
    23. Antonio Ciccone & Elias Papaioannou, 2009. "Human Capital, the Structure of Production, and Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 66-82, February.
    24. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, March.
    25. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    26. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
    27. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    28. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
    29. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Roehl, Richard, 1976. "French industrialization: A reconsideration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 233-281, July.
    31. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-668, September.
    32. Nye, John Vincent, 1987. "Firm Size and Economic Backwardness: A New Look at the French Industrialization Debate," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 649-669, September.
    33. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
    34. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
    35. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    36. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory and Comparative Development," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 2, pages 9-21, April-Jun.
    37. Kevin H. O'Rourke, Ahmed S. Rahman and Alan M. Taylor, 2008. "Luddites and the Demographic Transition," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp266, IIIS.
    38. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2013. "The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9744, April.
    39. Jérôme Vandenbussche & Philippe Aghion & Costas Meghir, 2006. "Growth, distance to frontier and composition of human capital," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 97-127, June.
    40. Daudin, Guillaume, 2010. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late-Eighteenth-Century France," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 716-743, September.
    41. Erik Hornung, 2014. "Immigration and the Diffusion of Technology: The Huguenot Diaspora in Prussia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 84-122, January.
    42. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    43. Petra Moser, 2012. "Innovation without Patents: Evidence from World's Fairs," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 43-74.
    44. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    45. Robert C. Allen, 2003. "Progress and poverty in early modern Europe," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 403-443, August.
    46. Daron Acemoglu & Francisco A. Gallego & James A. Robinson, 2014. "Institutions, Human Capital, and Development ," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 875-912, August.
    47. Brinkman, Henk Jan & Drukker, J. W. & Slot, Brigitte, 1988. "Height and income: A new method for the estimation of historical national income series," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 227-264, July.
    48. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 285-351, June.
    49. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/b0ghejdpldro9c499h4ajc937 is not listed on IDEAS
    50. Guillaume Daudin, 2010. "Domestic Trade and Market Size in Late 18th century France," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/b0ghejdpldr, Sciences Po.
    51. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
    52. Guillaume Daudin, 2005. "Commerce et prospérité : la France au XVIIIe siècle," Sciences Po publications 19, Sciences Po.
    53. Komlos, John, 1998. "Shrinking in a Growing Economy? The Mystery of Physical Stature during the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 779-802, September.
    54. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "The role of human capital and innovation in economic development: evidence from post-Malthusian Prussia," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 193-227, June.
    2. Alexandra M. de Pleijt, 2018. "Human capital formation in the long run: evidence from average years of schooling in England, 1300–1900," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 12(1), pages 99-126, January.
    3. Anna Valero, 2021. "Education and economic growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp1764, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Ralph Hippe & Roger Fouquet, 2015. "The human capital transition and the role of policy," GRI Working Papers 185, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    5. Jakob B. Madsen & Fabrice Murtin, 2017. "British economic growth since 1270: the role of education," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 229-272, September.
    6. Brückner, Markus & Gradstein, Mark, 2013. "Income and schooling," CEPR Discussion Papers 9365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Altinok, Nadir & Aydemir, Abdurrahman, 2017. "Does one size fit all? The impact of cognitive skills on economic growth," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 176-190.
    8. Valero, Anna & Van Reenen, John, 2019. "The economic impact of universities: Evidence from across the globe," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 53-67.
    9. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Human Capital and Regional Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 105-164.
    10. Md. Rabiul Islam & James B. Ang & Jakob B. Madsen, 2014. "Quality-Adjusted Human Capital And Productivity Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(2), pages 757-777, April.
    11. William F. Maloney & Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 2017. "Engineering Growth: Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas," CESifo Working Paper Series 6339, CESifo.
    12. Erik Hornung, 2012. "Humankapital, technologische Diffusion und Wachstum - Entwicklung in Preußen," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 46, May.
    13. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2017. "Jewish communities and city growth in preindustrial Europe," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 339-354.
    14. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2012. "Schooling, educational achievement, and the Latin American growth puzzle," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 497-512.
    15. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2012. "Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 267-321, December.
    16. Koyama, Mark & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2015. "The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China," MPRA Paper 62103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-668, September.
    18. 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.
    19. Michael S. Delgado & Daniel J. Henderson & Christopher F. Parmeter, 2014. "Does Education Matter for Economic Growth?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 76(3), pages 334-359, June.
    20. Anabela Queirós & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2014. "Economic growth, human capital and structural change: an empirical analysis," FEP Working Papers 549, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20219. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.