Labor Coercion and the Accumulation of Human Capital

51 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2013

See all articles by Gustavo J. Bobonis

Gustavo J. Bobonis

University of Toronto - Department of Economics

Peter Morrow

University of Toronto

Date Written: April 2013

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of labor coercion on human capital accumulation. We use microdata from Puerto Rico, where unskilled laborers were forced to work for landowners during 1849-1874. Using variation in municipality-level suitability for coffee cultivation and international coffee prices, we estimate the response of schooling to exogenous increases in relative demand for unskilled labor in regimes with and without coercion. During the coercive regime, increased coffee prices had no effect on individuals’ literacy rates in coffee growing regions. Following the abolition of coercion in 1874, similar changes in coffee prices reduced literacy rates by 12 percent, consistent with a diminished skill premium.

Keywords: labor coercion, human capital, historical development

JEL Classification: J41, O15, N36

Suggested Citation

Bobonis, Gustavo J. and Morrow, Peter, Labor Coercion and the Accumulation of Human Capital (April 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2285632 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2285632

Gustavo J. Bobonis (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

Peter Morrow

University of Toronto ( email )

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