Industrialization and Skill Intensity: The Case of Massachusetts

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1980


University of Wisconsin Press


The impact of industrialization on an economy's overall demands for skill cannot be deduced on purely a priori grounds, but depends, rather, on such variables as the character of the agricultural sector at the onset of industrialization, the particular industries in which manufacturing employment is concentrated, and the distribution of tertiary-sector employment between professional, technical, and scientific occupations, and such relatively low-skill occupations as domestic service. An examination of the evolution of the Massachusetts economy between 1820 and 1880 concludes that there was no major increase in the overall demands for skilled and educated labor during this period, at least before 1870.