THE WHEELS OF CHANGE: TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION, MILLWRIGHTS AND THE PERSISTENCE IN BRITAIN'S INDUSTRIALISATION

Joel Mokyr*, Assaf Sarid, Karine Van Der Beek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of the early adoption of technology on the evolution of human capital and industrialisation. We argue that mechanical skills and competence were a main determinant of the location of industry on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. It concentrates on the case of millwrights, eighteenth-century specialists in advanced carpentry and hydraulic machinery. Millwrights were a key part of the upper tail of the distribution of mechanical abilities. Their emergence was determined by the early adoption of watermills in the Middle Ages as recorded in the Domesday Book survey (1086). Their location displays considerable persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1894-1926
Number of pages33
JournalEconomic Journal
Volume132
Issue number645
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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