Skill Choice and Skill Complementarity in Eighteenth Century England
40 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2014 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2015
This paper provides a broad‐based empirical analysis of the effects of technological change on skill acquisition in the years that led to the British Industrial Revolution. Based on a unique set of data on apprenticeship between 1710 and 1772, the formal system for skill acquisition in this period, we show that both the number of apprentices and their share in the cohort of the fifteen year‐olds‐ increased in response to inventions and that the strongest response was in the highly skilled mechanical trades. These results suggest that technological changes in this period were skill biased mainly due to the expansion of the machinery sector they induced.
Keywords: skill complementarity, skill biased technological change, sbtc, British industrial revolution, technological change, innovations, apprenticeship, skill distribution, England, eighteenth century
JEL Classification: A10, I20, J44, N13, N33, O30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation