International Society for Quantitative History

QH Webinar Series

Technology Adoption and Productivity Growth: Evidence from Industrialization in France

16:00 | Thursday, June 3, 2021

Zoom Webinar

English

Mara P. Squicciarini

Mara P. Squicciarini

Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Bocconi University

Appleton's Cyclopaedia of Applied Mechanics, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

New technologies tend to be adopted slowly and – even after being adopted – take time to be reflected in higher aggregate productivity. One prominent explanation for these patterns is the need to reorganize production, which often goes hand-in-hand with major technological breakthroughs. Mara P. Squicciarini of Bocconi University and her co-authors study a unique setting that allows them to examine the empirical relevance of this explanation: the adoption of mechanized cotton spinning during the First Industrial Revolution in France. The new technology required reorganizing production by moving workers from their homes to the newly- formed factories. Using a novel hand-collected plant-level dataset from French archival sources, they show that productivity growth in mechanized cotton spinning was driven by the disappearance of plants in the lower tail – in contrast to other sectors that did not need to reorganize when new technologies were introduced. They provide evidence that this was driven by the need to learn about optimal ways of organizing production. In this Quantitative History Webinar, Mara P. Squicciarini will explore how this process of ‘trial and error’ led to initially low and widely dispersed productivity, and – in the subsequent decades – to high productivity growth as knowledge diffused through the economy and new entrants adopted improved methods of organizing production.

Mara's co-authors: Reka Juhasz (Columbia University) and Nico Voigtlaender (University of California, Los Angeles)

Live on Zoom on June 3, 2021
16:00 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore
09:00 London | 10:00 Milan | 17:00 Tokyo | 18:00 Sydney

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Zoom Webinar

Mara P. Squicciarini

English

The Quantitative History Webinar Series aims to provide researchers, teachers, and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The Series, now in its third year, is co-organized by the International Society for Quantitative History, HKU Business School, and Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 量化歷史網上講座系列由香港大學陳志武和馬馳騁教授聯合發起,旨在介紹前沿量化歷史研究成果、促進同仁交流,推廣量化方法在歷史研究中的應用。本系列講座由國際量化歷史學會、香港大學經管學院和香港人文社會研究所全力支持和承辦。

Conveners: Professor Zhiwu Chen & Dr. Chicheng Ma (HKU Business School)

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