Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution

That is a new paper by Morgan Kelly, Joek Mokyr, and Cormac Ó Gráda, and the abstract is here:

Why was Britain the cradle of the Industrial Revolution? Answers vary: some focus on resource endowments, some on institutions, some on the role of empire. In this paper, we argue for the role of labour force quality or human capital. Instead of dwelling on mediocre schooling and literacy rates, we highlight instead the physical condition of the average British worker and his higher endowment of skills. These advantages meant that British workers were more productive and better paid than their Continental counterparts and better equipped to capitalize on the technological opportunities and challenges confronting them.

The British were fed better, they may have been smarter for nutritional reasons, and they also had a better system of apprenticeships.


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