Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    Precocious Albion: a new interpretation of the British industrial revolution
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2013-09) ; ;
    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. non-peer-reviewed
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  • Publication
    The height of Irishmen and Englishmen in the 1770's : some evidence from the East India Company Army records
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 1988-11) ;
    This article compares the heights of 1,000 Irish and English men recruited for service in India by the East India Company in the late 1770s and early 1780s. The height data serves as a guide to determining the economic conditions of various regions in Ireland and England. Despite the law against Irish recruitment, Robert Brooke, an Irish soldier, entrepreneur and administrator, "turned a blind eye" to recruiting Irish men for the East India Company. Many had native Irish surnames, suggesting a "strong catholic representation" among Brooke’s recruits. Included are various tables and graphs, which show the Irish in each age group to be taller and to have reached adult height at an earlier age than the English. Furthermore, the height data suggests that despite coming from a conventionally poorer socio-economic background, the Irish recruits were healthier than the English recruits. The article includes biographical background on Brooke, a letter from the East India Company to the British government asking for Irish recruitment, and statistics of deaths, desertion and transfers among Brooke’s men.
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  • Publication
      212
  • Publication
    Appendix to "Precocious Albion: a new interpretation of the British industrial revolution"
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2013-09) ; ;
    This appendix gives a formal derivation of the model described in paper WP13/11. non-peer-reviewed
      99
  • Publication
    Roots of the Industrial Revolution
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2015-10) ; ;
    We analyze factors explaining the very different patterns of industrialization across the 42 counties of England between 1760 and 1830. Against the widespread view that high wages and cheap coal drove industrialization, we find that industrialization was restricted to low wage areas, while energy availability (coal or water) had little impact Instead we find that industrialization can largely be explained by two factors related to the human capability of the labour force. Instead of being composed of landless labourers, successful industrializers had large numbers of small farms, which are associated with better nutrition and height. Secondly, industrializing counties had a high density of population relative to agricultural land, indicating extensive rural industrial activity: counties that were already reliant on small scale industry, with the technical and entrepreneurial skills this generated, experienced the strongest industrial growth. Looking at 1830s France we find that the strongest predictor of industrialization again is quality of workers shown by height of the population, although market access and availability of water power were also important.
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  • Publication
    Emigration and poverty in prefamine Ireland
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 1982-06) ;
    Emigration was a crucial element in Irish population change during the half century before the Great Famine. The size and composition of the outward flow worried some, and caused considerable debate. Majority opinion held that emigration was likely to benefit economically both those who left and those who stayed behind. This paper uses an untapped source - ship passenger lists - to determine some relevant emigrant characteristics, and uses it to check for likely losses to the stay-at-homes from the 'quality' and age structure of the flow.
      1012
  • Publication
    The Mechanics of the Industrial Revolution
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2020-06) ; ;
    For contemporaries, Britain’s success in developing the technologies of the early Industrial Revolution rested in large part on its abundant supply of artisan skills, notably in metalworking. In this paper we outline a simple process where successful industrialization occurs in regions that start with low wages and high mechanical skills, and show that these two factors strongly explain the growth of the textile industry across the 41 counties of England between the 1760s and 1830s. By contrast, literacy and access to capital have no power in predicting industrialization, nor does proximity to coal. Although unimportant as a source of power for early textile machinery, Britain’s coal was vital as a source of cheap heat that allowed it over centuries to develop a unique range of sophisticated metalworking industries. From these activities came artisans, from watchmakers to iron founders, whose industrial skills were in demand not just in Britain but across all of Europe. Against the view that living standards were stagnant during the Industrial Revolution, we find that real wages rose sharply in the industrializing north and collapsed in the previously prosperous south.
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