Roots of the Industrial Revolution

UCD CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH WORKING PAPER SERIES 2015, WP15/24

27 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2015

See all articles by Morgan Kelly

Morgan Kelly

University College Dublin (UCD) - Department of Economics

Joel Mokyr

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Cormac O'Grada

University College Dublin (UCD)

Date Written: November 26, 2015

Abstract

We analyze factors explaining the very different patterns of industrialization across the 42 counties of England between 1760 and 1830. Against the widespread view that high wages and cheap coal drove industrialization, we find that industrialization was restricted to low wage areas, while energy availability (coal or water) had little impact Instead we find that industrialization can largely be explained by two factors related to the human capability of the labour force. Instead of being composed of landless labourers, successful industrializers had large numbers of small farms, which are associated with better nutrition and height. Secondly, industrializing counties had a high density of population relative to agricultural land, indicating extensive rural industrial activity: counties that were already reliant on small scale industry, with the technical and entrepreneurial skills this generated, experienced the strongest industrial growth. Looking at 1830s France we find that the strongest predictor of industrialization again is quality of workers shown by height of the population, although market access and availability of water power were also important.

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Morgan and Mokyr, Joel and O'Grada, Cormac, Roots of the Industrial Revolution (November 26, 2015). UCD CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH WORKING PAPER SERIES 2015, WP15/24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2695719 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2695719

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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