University of Cambridge > > Core Seminar in Economic and Social History > Industrialisation, inter-sectoral linkage and occupational structure: Britain, Germany and Japan, c.1850-1935

Industrialisation, inter-sectoral linkage and occupational structure: Britain, Germany and Japan, c.1850-1935

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Economists and economic historians since Sir William Petty have long held a belief that economic development follows the stylised sequence that, first, the primary sector declines and the secondary sector grows, then at a later stage the tertiary sector grows. If sectoral shares are defined with respect to output only, this probably holds in many countries. As for the labour force, however, the developmental sequence seems different. Findings so far available from the International Network for the Comparative History of Occupational Structure (INCHOS) have revealed that in Britain, the secondary-sector share of employment grew very little during the industrial revolution, in which the dominant feature was a shift away from the primary to the tertiary sector, while in the case of Japan, industrialisation was accompanied by a sluggish reduction in the share of primary-sector employment (no reduction in the number of farm households in absolute terms). Among the countries surveyed, Germany is the only one whose evolution fits in with Petty’s sequential pattern. In order to account for such diverse experiences, this paper focuses on inter-sectoral linkages as well as the varying capital-labour ratio across the branches in the secondary sector. On the basis of input-output tables available for Britain, Germany and Japan, calculation will be made of the direct and indirect effects that manufacturing growth would have on the creation of employment, which will enable us to determine to what extent the differential employment creation impact on the primary and tertiary sectors can account for the observed differences in occupational structural change that took place in the three countries.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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