Education and catch-up in the industrial revolution

Sascha O. Becker, Erik Hornung, Ludger Woessmann

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Research increasingly stresses the role of human capital in modern economic development. Existing historical evidence-mostly from British textile industries-however, rejects that formal education was important for the Industrial Revolution. Our new evidence from technological follower Prussia uses a unique school enrollment and factory employment database linking 334 counties from pre-industrial 1816 to two industrial phases in 1849 and 1882. Using pre-industrial education as instrument for later education and controlling extensively for pre-industrial development, we find that basic education is significantly associated with nontextile industrialization in both phases of the Industrial Revolution. Panel data models with county fixed effects confirm the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-126
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Economic Journal. Macroeconomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

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