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Quantifying Human Capital Accumulation in Rural Ireland in the Nineteenth Century

Author

Listed:
  • Matthias Blum

    () (Economics, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast)

  • Christopher L. Colvin

    () (Economics, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast)

  • Laura McAtackney

    () (Aarhus Universitet)

  • Eoin McLaughlin

    () (Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)

Abstract

Geary and Stark find that Ireland’s Post-Famine per capita GDP converged with British levels, and that this convergence was due to TFP growth rather than mass emigration. We devise new long-run measurements of human capital accumulation in Ireland in order to facilitate an assessment of sources of this TFP growth, including the relative contribution of men and women. We do so by exploiting the frequency at which age data heap at round ages, a measure that has been widely interpreted as an indicator of a population’s basic numeracy skills. Because Földvári, Van Leeuwen and Van Leeuwen-Li find that gender-specific trends in this measure derived from census returns are biased by who is reporting and recording the age information, we correct any computed numeracy trends using data from prison and workhouse registers, sources in which women self-reported their age. We find that rural Irish women born early in the nineteenth century had substantially lower levels of human capital than uncorrected census data would otherwise suggest. Our results are large in magnitude and economically significant. The speed at which women converged is consistent with Geary and Stark’s interpretation of Irish economic history; Ireland likely graduated to Europe’s club of advanced economies thanks in part to rapid advances in female human capital

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Blum & Christopher L. Colvin & Laura McAtackney & Eoin McLaughlin, 2015. "Quantifying Human Capital Accumulation in Rural Ireland in the Nineteenth Century," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2015-22, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2015-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Blum & Christopher L. Colvin & Eoin McLaughlin, 2017. "Scarring and Selection in the Great Irish Famine," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2017-10, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    2. Blum, Matthias & Krauss, Karl-Peter, 2017. "Age heaping and numeracy: Looking behind the curtain," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-05, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    age heaping; female numeracy; selection bias; prisons; workhouses; Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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