At the roots of the industrial take-off: evidence from the Swedish parishes (1750-1850)

Lilla salen Session 1: Consequences of Technological Change organized by Suvi Heikkuri


Anna Missiaia, Fredrik Sandgren


The emergence, disappearance and relocation of jobs are inherent features of modern economic growth and a result of technological change and evolving market conditions. These dynamics, observed both in today’s globalized world and in past waves of globalization, have an important regional dimension, with some regions striving and some declining. The historical literature has been increasingly interested in relating the pre-industrial regional specialization with the subsequent location of industrial activity during the take-off of modern economic growth. In particular, the British case studied within the Cambridge Population Group has shown a high level of specialization well before the beginning if the First Industrial Revolution (Keibek, 2017a, 2017b, 2017c). These results have revived the interest in the study of the proto industrial activities, which have been approached in the past using case-studies (Isaacsson & Magnusson, 1987). We embrace the quantitative approach proposed by the Cambridge Population Group and look at the case of Sweden, a late industrializer that developed into one of the most dynamic economies of the continent and relate the regional patterns before the industrial take-off to the subsequent location of industrial activity later on. We rely on a novel database on the occupational structure of the Swedish parishes from 1750 to 1850 based on data from Tabellverket. Using GIS, we create time-invariant parish boundaries that allow to track employment change over time using consistent geographical units. We then test whether the employment structure of parishes during the industrial take-off responded the pre-industrial occupational specialization.


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