Farmers at the Heart of the ‘Human Capital Revolution’? Decomposing the Numeracy Increase in Early Modern Europe

31 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2017

See all articles by Franziska Tollnek

Franziska Tollnek

University of Tuebingen

Joerg Baten

University of Tuebingen

Date Written: August 2017

Abstract

Did the early development of skills and numerical abilities occur primarily in urban centres and among the elite groups of society? This study assesses the human capital of different occupational groups in the early modern period and partially confirms this finding: skilled and professional groups had higher levels of numeracy and literacy than persons in unskilled occupations. However, there was another large group that developed substantial human capital and represented around one‐third of the total population: farmers. By analysing numeracy and literacy evidence from six countries in Europe and Latin America, we argue that farmers contributed significantly to the formation of human capital and, consequently, to modern economic growth.

Suggested Citation

Tollnek, Franziska and Baten, Joerg, Farmers at the Heart of the ‘Human Capital Revolution’? Decomposing the Numeracy Increase in Early Modern Europe (August 2017). The Economic History Review, Vol. 70, Issue 3, pp. 779-809, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3001462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12382

Franziska Tollnek (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, 72074
Germany

Joerg Baten

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074
Germany

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