IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wil/wileco/2017-03.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Emergence of Labor Emancipation

Author

Abstract

This paper advances a novel hypothesis regarding the historical roots of labor emancipation. It argues that the decline of coercive labor institutions in the industrial phase of development has been an inevitable by-product of the intensification of capital-skill complementarity in the production process. In light of the growing significance of skilled labor for fostering the return to physical capital, elites in society were induced to relinquish their historically profitable coercion of labor in favor of employing free skilled workers, thereby incentivizing the masses to engage in broad-based human capital acquisition, without fear of losing their skill premium to expropriation. In line with the proposed hypothesis, exploiting a plausibly exogenous source of variation in proto-industrialization across regions of nineteenth-century Prussia, the initial abundance of elite-owned physical capital that also came to be associated with skill-intensive industrialization is shown to have contributed to the subsequent intensity of de facto serf emancipation.

Suggested Citation

  • Quamrul H. Ashraf & Francesco Cinnirella & Oded Galor & Boris Gershman & Erik Hornung, 2017. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Emergence of Labor Emancipation," Department of Economics Working Papers 2017-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Mar 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2017-03
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/AshrafCinnirellaGalorGershmanHornung_Emancipation.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cinnirella, Francesco & Hornung, Erik, 2016. "Landownership concentration and the expansion of education," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 135-152.
    2. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    3. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    4. Theresa Gutberlet, 2014. "Mechanization and the spatial distribution of industries in the German Empire, 1875 to 1907," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(2), pages 463-491, May.
    5. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2014. "Slavery, education, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 197-209.
    6. Erik Hornung, 2015. "Railroads And Growth In Prussia," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 699-736, August.
    7. Buggle, Johannes C., 2016. "Law and social capital: Evidence from the Code Napoleon in Germany," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 148-175.
    8. Sascha Becker & Francesco Cinnirella & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The trade-off between fertility and education: evidence from before the demographic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 177-204, September.
    9. Sascha O. Becker & Erik Hornung & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 92-126, July.
    10. De Long, J Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 671-702, October.
    11. Steven Nafziger, 2012. "Serfdom, Emancipation, and Off-farm Labour Mobility in Tsarist Russia," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 1-37.
    12. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596.
    13. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2015. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1825-1883.
    14. James Fenske, 2013. "Does Land Abundance Explain African Institutions?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1363-1390, December.
    15. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    16. Millward, Robert, 1984. "The early stages of European industrialization: Economic organization under serfdom," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 406-428, October.
    17. der Beek, Karine van, 2010. "The effects of political fragmentation on investments: A case study of watermill construction in medieval Ponthieu, France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 369-380, October.
    18. Andrei Markevich & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2018. "The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(4-5), pages 1074-1117, April.
    19. Davide Cantoni, 2012. "Adopting a New Religion: the Case of Protestantism in 16th Century Germany," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 502-531, May.
    20. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Alan Fernihough, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _124, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    21. Franck, Raphaël & Galor, Oded, 2016. "Technology-Skill Complementarity in the Early Phase of Industrialization," IZA Discussion Papers 9758, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    22. Fenoaltea, Stefano, 1984. "Slavery and Supervision in Comparative Perspective: A Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 635-668, September.
    23. Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp439, IIIS.
    24. Bobonis, Gustavo J. & Morrow, Peter M., 2014. "Labor coercion and the accumulation of human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 32-53.
    25. Eddie, Scott M., 2008. "Landownership in Eastern Germany Before the Great War: A Quantitative Analysis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198201663.
    26. Francesco Cinnirella & Erik Hornung, 2016. "Land Inequality, Education, and Marriage: Empirical Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia," CESifo Working Paper Series 6072, CESifo.
    27. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, with an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 707-765.
    28. Suresh Naidu & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "Coercive Contract Enforcement: Law and the Labor Market in Nineteenth Century Industrial Britain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 107-144, February.
    29. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory and Comparative Development," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 2, pages 9-21, April-Jun.
    30. Oded Galor & Omer Moav & Dietrich Vollrath, 2009. "Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 143-179.
    31. Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 217-234, May.
    32. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Cantoni & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2011. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3286-3307, December.
    33. repec:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i::p:502-531 is not listed on IDEAS
    34. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    35. Toke S. Aidt & Raphaël Franck, 2015. "Democratization Under the Threat of Revolution: Evidence From the Great Reform Act of 1832," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 505-547, March.
    36. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "The role of human capital and innovation in economic development: evidence from post-Malthusian Prussia," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 193-227, June.
    37. Oded Galor, 2011. "Unified Growth Theory," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9477.
    38. Harnisch Hartmut, 1974. "Statistische Untersuchungen Zum Verlauf Der Kapitalistischen Agrarreformen In Den Preussischen Ostprovinzen (1811 Bis 1865)," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 149-182, April.
    39. Joel Mokyr & Chris Vickers & Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2015. "The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 31-50, Summer.
    40. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Becker, Sascha O. & Hornung, Erik, 2020. "The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-Class Franchise," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1143-1188, December.
    2. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2022. "The Economic Impact of the Black Death," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 132-178, March.
    3. Boberg-Fazlic, Nina & Lampe, Markus & Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo & Sharp, Paul, 2020. "Winners and Losers from Enclosure: Evidence from Danish Land Inequality 1682-1895," CEPR Discussion Papers 14616, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Alex W. Chernoff, 2021. "Firm heterogeneity, technology adoption and the spatial distribution of population: Theory and measurement," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(2), pages 475-521, May.
    5. Madsen, Jakob & Strulik, Holger, 2020. "Technological change and inequality in the very long run," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    6. Sarid, Assaf & Mokyr, Joel & van der Beek, Karine, 2019. "The Wheels of Change: Human Capital, Millwrights, and Industrialization in Eighteenth-Century England," CEPR Discussion Papers 14138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Parente, Stephen L. & Sáenz, Luis Felipe & Seim, Anna, 2019. "Income, Education and Democracy," Research Papers in Economics 2019:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    8. Joerg Baten & Ralph Hippe, 2018. "Geography, land inequality and regional numeracy in Europe in historical perspective," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 79-109, March.
    9. Oto-Peralías, Daniel, 2019. "Delegation of Governmental Authority in Historical Perspective: Lordships, State Capacity and Development," SocArXiv k8mzr, Center for Open Science.
    10. Boberg-Fazlić, Nina & Lampe, Markus & Martinelli Lasheras, Pablo & Sharp, Paul, 2022. "Winners and losers from agrarian reform: Evidence from Danish land inequality 1682–1895," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "The role of human capital and innovation in economic development: evidence from post-Malthusian Prussia," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 193-227, June.
    2. Mara Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2016. "Knowledge elites and modernization: evidence from revolutionary France," Working Papers of LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 569653, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
    3. Cinnirella, Francesco & Hornung, Erik, 2016. "Landownership concentration and the expansion of education," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 135-152.
    4. Viktor Malein, 2021. "Human Capital and Industrialization: German Settlers in Late Imperial Russia," Working Papers 0221, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Montalbo, Adrien, 2021. "Schools without a law: Primary education in France from the Revolution to the Guizot Law," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Tomas Cvrcek & Miroslav Zajicek, 2019. "The rise of public schooling in nineteenth-century Imperial Austria: Who gained and who paid?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(3), pages 367-403, September.
    7. Franck, Raphaël & Galor, Oded, 2021. "Flowers of evil? Industrialization and long run development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 108-128.
    8. Alexandra de Pleijt & Alessandro Nuvolari & Jacob Weisdorf, 2020. "Human Capital Formation During the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the use of Steam Engines," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 829-889.
    9. Florian M. Hollenbach, 2021. "Elite interests and public spending: Evidence from Prussian cities," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 189-211, January.
    10. Wolfgang Keller & Carol H. Shiue, 2020. "Market integration and institutional change," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(2), pages 251-285, May.
    11. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6797, CESifo.
    12. Madsen, Jakob B. & Raschky, Paul A. & Skali, Ahmed, 2015. "Does democracy drive income in the world, 1500–2000?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 175-195.
    13. Fabrice Murtin & Romain Wacziarg, 2014. "The democratic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 141-181, June.
    14. Mara P. Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer, 2015. "Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1825-1883.
    15. Daniel Oto-Peralías & Diego Romero-Ávila, 2016. "The economic consequences of the Spanish Reconquest: the long-term effects of Medieval conquest and colonization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 409-464, December.
    16. Donges, Alexander & Selgert, Felix, 2019. "The Consequences of Radical Patent-Regime Change," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203662, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    17. Èric Gómez-i-Aznar, 2019. "Human capital at the beginnings of the 18th century Catalonia: age-heaping and numeracy in a changing economy," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1904, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    18. Jakob B. Madsen & Fabrice Murtin, 2017. "British economic growth since 1270: the role of education," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 229-272, September.
    19. Francesco Cinnirella & Erik Hornung, 2016. "Land Inequality, Education, and Marriage: Empirical Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Prussia," CESifo Working Paper Series 6072, CESifo.
    20. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2020. "Historical Natural Experiments: Bridging Economics and Economic History," NBER Working Papers 26754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor coercion; serfdom; emancipation; industrialization; physical capital accumulation; capital-skill complementarity; demand for human capital; nineteenth-century Prussia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
    • 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
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2017-03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/edwilus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Stephen Sheppard (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/edwilus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.