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Human Capital and Technological Transition – Insights from the U.S.Navy

  • Ahmed S. Rahman


    (United States Naval Academy)

This paper explores the e ects of human capital on workers during the latter 19th century by examining the speci c case of the U.S. Navy. During this time, naval ocers belonged either to a regular or an engineer corps and had tasks assigned for their specialized training and experience. To test the e ects of specialized skills on career performance, we compile educational data from original-source Naval Academy records for the graduating classes of 1858 to 1905. We merge these with career data extracted from ocial Navy registers for the years 1859 to 1907. This compilation comprises one of the longest and earliest longitudinal records of labor market earnings, education and experience of which we are aware. Our results suggest that wage premia for \engineer-skilled" ocers rapidly deteriorated over their careers; more traditionally skilled ocers were better compensated and promoted more frequently as their careers progressed. This compelled those with engineering skills to leave the service early, contributing to the Navy's failure to keep up with the technological frontier of the time.

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Paper provided by United States Naval Academy Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 34.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usn:usnawp:34
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  1. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Rahman, Ahmed & Taylor, Alan M., 2008. "Luddites and the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 7045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Aldrich, Terry Mark, 1970. "Rates of Return Earned on Investment in Formal Technical Education in the Ante-Bellum American Economy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(01), pages 251-255, March.
  8. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-15, September.
  10. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-1, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
  11. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F., 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 782-818, September.
  12. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  13. Bernhardt, Dan, 1995. "Strategic Promotion and Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 315-39, April.
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