Technology-Skill Complementarity in Early Phases of Industrialization
The research explores the effect of industrialization on human capital formation. Exploiting exogenous regional variations in the adoption of steam engines across France, the study establishes that, in contrast to conventional wisdom that views early industrialization as a predominantly deskilling process, the industrial revolution was conducive for human capital formation, generating wide-ranging gains in literacy rates and educational attainment.
We thank Mario Carillo, Pedro Dal Bo, Martin Fiszbein, Gregory Casey, Marc Klemp, Stelios Michalopoulos, Natacha Postel-Vinay, Assaf Sarid, Yannay Spitzer and David Weil for helpful comments and discussions. We thank Guillaume Daudin, Alan Fernihough, Ömer Özak and Nico Voigtländer for sharing their data with us. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.