NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Joel Mokyr

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Working Papers

March 2016Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Pre-Industrial Economy
with David de la Croix, Matthias Doepke: w22131
In the centuries leading up to the Industrial Revolution, Western Europe gradually pulled ahead of other world regions in terms of technological creativity, population growth, and income per capita. We argue that superior institutions for the creation and dissemination of productive knowledge help explain the European advantage. We build a model of technological progress in a pre-industrial economy that emphasizes the person-to-person transmission of tacit knowledge. The young learn as apprentices from the old. Institutions such as the family, the clan, the guild, and the market organize who learns from whom. We argue that medieval European institutions such as guilds, and specific features such as journeymanship, can explain the rise of Europe relative to regions that relied on the transm...
April 2011The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions
with Ralf Meisenzahl: w16993
During the Industrial Revolution technological progress and innovation became the main drivers of economic growth. But why was Britain the technological leader? We argue that one hitherto little recognized British advantage was the supply of highly skilled, mechanically able craftsmen who were able to adapt, implement, improve, and tweak new technologies and who provided the micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative. Using a sample of 759 of these mechanics and engineers, we study the incentives and institutions that facilitated the high rate of inventive activity during the Industrial Revolution. First, apprenticeship was the dominant form of skill formation. Formal education played only a minor role. Second, many skilled workmen relied on secr...

Published: The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions, Ralf R. Meisenzahl, Joel Mokyr. in The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, Lerner and Stern. 2012

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