The Wheels of Change: Technology Adoption, Millwrights, and Persistence in Britain&Apos;S Industrialization

80 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2019 Last revised: 6 May 2020

See all articles by Assaf Sarid

Assaf Sarid

University of Haifa

Joel Mokyr

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Karine van der Beek

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of the early adoption of technology on the evolution of human capital and industrialization, in the context of Britain's Industrial Revolution. We demonstrate that millwrights, eighteenth century specialists in advanced carpentry and hydraulic machinery, evolved following the diffusion of watermills, and are recorded in the Domesday Book survey (1086). Our results suggest that their availability was a major factor in determining the persistence of English industrial location from the thirteenth century to the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, in locations that adopted watermills in the Middle Ages, we show that the availability of physical infrastructure and of highly skilled wrights jointly determined the location of English industry from the end of the thirteenth century to the eve of the Industrial Revolution.

JEL Classification: N00, N13, N53, N73, N93, O14, O15, O33

Suggested Citation

Sarid, Assaf and Mokyr, Joel and van der Beek, Karine, The Wheels of Change: Technology Adoption, Millwrights, and Persistence in Britain&Apos;S Industrialization (November 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496627

Assaf Sarid (Contact Author)

University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Joel Mokyr

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
708-491-5693 (Phone)
708-491-7001 (Fax)

Karine Van der Beek

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

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