"Human Capital Formation during the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Use of Steam Engines"
We examine the effect of technological change on human capital formation during England’s Industrial Revolution. Using the number of steam engines installed by 1800 to capture technological change and occupational statistics to measure working skills (using HISCLASS), our county-level regression analysis shows a positive correlation between the use of steam technology and the share of skilled workers. We use exogenous variation in carboniferous rock strata (containing coal to fuel the engines) to show that the effect was causal. Technological change had, however, negative or no effects on basic educational training including literacy and school enrolment rates.