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Poor, hungry and ignorant: Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780-1850

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Listed:
  • Jörg Baten
  • Dorothee Crayen
  • Joachim Voth

Abstract

This paper uses the ability to recall one’s age correctly as an indicator of numeracy. We show that low levels of nutrition impaired numeracy in industrializing England, 1780-1850. Numeracy declined markedly among those born during the war years, especially where wheat was dear. England’s nascent welfare state mitigated the negative effect of high food prices on cognitive skills. Nutrition during early development mattered for labor market outcomes: individuals born in periods or countries with high age heaping were more likely to sort into occupations with limited intellectual requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen & Joachim Voth, 2007. "Poor, hungry and ignorant: Numeracy and the impact of high food prices in industrializing Britain, 1780-1850," Economics Working Papers 1120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1120
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Enquete: o melhor título de paper
      by Leonardo Monasterio in Blog do Leonardo Monasterio on 2009-02-28 17:31:00
    2. Poll: the best title for an Economics paper
      by Leonardo Monasterio in Leonardo Monasterio's Blog on 2009-02-28 17:40:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jörg Baten & Johan Fourie, 2012. "Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century," Working Papers 270, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    2. Franziska Tollnek & Joerg Baten, 2012. "Farmer Families at the Heart of the Educational Revolution: Which Occupational Group Inherited Human Capital in the Early Modern Era?," Working Papers 0033, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    3. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 363-389, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Nutrition; cognitive development; age heaping; numeracy; occupational choice; Industrial Revolution; social spending; poverty traps; effects of war.;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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