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Precocious Albion: a New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution

  • Morgan Kelly

    (University College Dublin)

  • Joel Mokyr

    (Northwestern University)

  • Cormac Ó Gráda

    (University College Dublin)

Why was Britain the cradle of the Industrial Revolution? Answers vary: some focus on resource endowments, some on institutions, some on the role of empire. In this paper, we argue for the role of labour force quality or human capital. Instead of dwelling on mediocre schooling and literacy rates, we highlight instead the physical condition of the average British worker and his higher endowment of skills. These advantages meant that British workers were more productive and better paid than their Continental counterparts and better equipped to capitalize on the technological opportunities and challenges confronting them (This paper should be read in conjunction with WP13/12: Morgan Kelly, Joel Mokyr and Cormac Ó Gráda: 'Appendix to “Precocious Albion: a New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution”' September 2013).

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP13_11.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201311.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 24 Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201311
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