Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/161862
Authors: 
Ashraf, Quamrul H.
Cinnirella, Francesco
Galor, Oded
Gershman, Boris
Hornung, Erik
Year of Publication: 
2017
Series/Report no.: 
CESifo Working Paper 6423
Abstract: 
This paper advances a novel hypothesis regarding the historical roots of labor emancipation. It argues that the decline of coercive labor institutions in the industrial phase of development has been an inevitable by-product of the intensification of capital-skill complementarity in the production process. In light of the growing significance of skilled labor for fostering the return to physical capital, elites in society were induced to relinquish their historically profitable coercion of labor in favor of employing free skilled workers, thereby incentivizing the masses to engage in broad-based human capital acquisition, without fear of losing their skill premium to expropriation. In line with the proposed hypothesis, exploiting a plausibly exogenous source of variation in early industrialization across regions of nineteenth-century Prussia, capital abundance is shown to have contributed to the subsequent intensity of de facto serf emancipation.
Subjects: 
labor coercion
serfdom
emancipation
industrialization
physical capital accumulation
capital-skill complementarity
demand for human capital
nineteenth-century Prussia
JEL: 
J24
J47
N13
N33
O14
O15
O43
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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