Economic History Field Seminar: Jeremiah Dittmar

Title: "Labor Market Conflict and Technical Change: The Political Economy of Innovation in the Industrial Revolution"

  • Date: 27 June 2024 from 14:30 to 15:30

  • Event location: Auditorium - Piazza Scaravilli, 1 + Microsoft Teams Meeting


We study conflict in the labor market as a factor driving technical change. The legalization of unions was an exogenous shock to the cost of conflict in the Industrial Revolution. We investigate how this impacted the development of technology and labor markets. We find the impact was concentrated in the textiles industry, which pioneered the mechanized factory and drove modern growth. After unions were legalized, patenting increased significantly in textiles, especially for high quality invention; strikes became drivers of increased textiles invention; and the direction and bias of technical change shifted towards unskilled, non-union labor, including female and child labor.

Local Organizer: Jonathan Chapman