The Mechanics of the Industrial Revolution

Morgan Kelly, Joel Mokyr, Cormac Gráda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there are many competing explanations for the Industrial Revolution, there has been no effort to evaluate them econometrically. This paper analyzes how the very different patterns of growth across the counties of England between the 1760s and 1830s can be explained by a wide range of potential variables. We find that industrialization occurred in areas that began with low wages but high mechanical skills, whereas other variables, such as literacy, banks, and proximity to coal, have little explanatory power. Against the view that living standards were stagnant during the Industrial Revolution, we find that real wages rose sharply in the industrializing north and declined in the previously prosperous south.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-94
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'The Mechanics of the Industrial Revolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this