fbpx Fighting for Growth: Labor Scarcity and Technological Progress During the British Industrial Revolution | Harvard Kennedy School
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Date and Location

September 20, 2023
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM ET


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The Growth Lab Research Seminar series is a weekly seminar that brings together researchers from across the academic spectrum who share an interest in growth and development.

This seminar is online only.

In this seminar, Bruno Caprettini will discuss new data and present new evidence on the effects of labor scarcity on the adoption of labor-saving technology in industrializing England. Where the British armed forces recruited heavily, more machines that economized on labor were adopted. For purposes of identification, the focus is on naval recruitment. Using warships’ ease of access to coastal locations as an instrument, exogenous shocks to labor scarcity led to technology adoption. The same shocks are only weakly associated with the adoption of non-labor saving technologies. Importantly, there is also a synergy between skill abundance and labor scarcity boosting technology adoption. Where labor shortages led to labor-saving machine adoption, technology afterwards improved more rapidly.

Speakers and Presenters

Bruno Caprettini is Assistant Professor at the University of St Gallen, where he is affiliated with the Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research (SIAW). He holds a PhD from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona). He is interested in the determinants of long-term growth, both economic and political. Some of his work appeared on AER, QJE and AER-Insights.


Additional Organizers

​Growth Lab