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The Industrious Revolution In America

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Chapter Summary

De Vries's essential historical point is that the behavioral transformation predated the technological breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution, setting the stage for that great supply-side event. This chapter considers what adaptations and amendments may be required in order to apply this analysis to the economic development of the United States. By the eighteenth century, however, improvements in material conditions plus declines in transportation and distribution costs generated a vast expansion of trans-Atlantic trade. In the basic de Vries scenario, the Industrious Revolution came first, followed by the Industrial Revolution. The chapter explores that a pervasive "norm of mobility" became embedded in law and expectations, shaping labor relations, working conditions, and ultimately the direction of American technological change. This transition is sometimes seen as a substitution of individualism for family values.

Keywords: American technological change; Atlantic trade; economic development; industrious revolution; labor scarcity



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