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Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution

34 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2013  

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

Joel Mokyr

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Cormac O'Grada

University College Dublin (UCD)

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Date Written: September 3, 2013

Abstract

Why was Britain the cradle of the Industrial Revolution? Answers vary: some focus on resource endowments, some on institutions, some on the role of empire. In this paper, we argue for the role of labour force quality or human capital. Instead of dwelling on mediocre schooling and literacy rates, we highlight instead the physical condition of the average British worker and his higher endowment of skills. These advantages meant that British workers were more productive and better paid than their Continental counterparts and better equipped to capitalize on the technological opportunities and challenges confronting them.

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Morgan and Mokyr, Joel and O'Grada, Cormac, Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution (September 3, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2319855 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319855

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4, Dublin 4
Ireland
+353 1 706 8611 (Phone)
+353 1 283 0068 (Fax)

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)

Cormac O'Grada (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Dublin 4, 4
Ireland

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