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Precocious Albion: a new interpretation of the British industrial revolution

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  • Morgan Kelly
  • Joel Mokyr
  • Cormac Ó Gráda

Abstract

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. non-peer-reviewed

Suggested Citation

  • Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2013. "Precocious Albion: a new interpretation of the British industrial revolution," Working Papers 201311, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201311
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4796
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Industrial Revolution in Britain: it was thanks to human capital
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-10-31 20:01:00
    2. Le rôle du capital humain dans la révolution industrielle
      by ? in D'un champ l'autre on 2014-06-21 23:43:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:339-354 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Edwards, Jeremy S. S., 2017. "A replication of "Education and catch-up in the Industrial Revolution" (American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2011)," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-30, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Kelly, Morgan & Grada, Cormac O, 2015. "Adam Smith, Watch Prices, and the Industrial Revolution," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 220, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China and Divided Europe," CEI Working Paper Series 2014-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    5. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "Adam Smith, Watch Prices, and the Industrial Revolution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1727-1752.
    6. de Pleijt, Alexandra M., 2015. "Human capital and long run economic growth : Evidence from the stock of human capital in England, 1300-1900," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 229, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    7. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Industrial revolution; Human capitol; Economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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