Skill choice and skill complementarity in eighteenth century England

Naomi E. Feldman, Karine van der Beek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes the effects of technological change on skill acquisition during the British Industrial Revolution. Based on a unique set of data on apprenticeships between 1710 and 1772, we show that both the number of apprentices and their share in the cohort of the fifteen year-olds increased in response to inventions. The strongest response was in the highly skilled mechanical trades. These results suggest that technological change in this period was skill biased due to the expansion of the machinery sector they induced.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)94-113
Number of pages20
JournalExplorations in Economic History
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Apprenticeship
  • Eighteenth-century England
  • Human capital
  • Industrial revolution
  • Machine making
  • Mechanical trades
  • Skill-biased technological change


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