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Introducing The Problem The Birth Of The European Knowledge Economy

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Chapter Summary

Economic growth, especially the 'modern economic growth' that is based on sustained increases in total factor productivity, is ultimately based on the accumulation of knowledge. This chapter discusses the growth of human capital and knowledge by focusing on trends in the centuries leading up to the industrial revolution. It focuses on Joel Mokyr's interpretation of the long-term causes of the industrial revolution as the result of new technology, which was driven by the development of a 'knowledge society' in Western Europe in this period. The chapter analyzes three interrelated processes- the decline of the skill premium of common workmen, the fall in book prices, and the rise of literacy - were concentrated in one part of Europe, the Low Countries and Great Britain. Southern Europe and parts of Central Europe dropped behind aft er the sixteenth century, and Eastern Europe continued to lag throughout.

Keywords: economic growth; industrial revolution; knowledge society; skill premium; Western Europe



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