Chapter

Economic Growth, Human Capital Formation and Consumption in Western Europe Before 1800

Jaime Reis

in Living Standards in the Past

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199280681
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602467 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199280681.003.0009
 Economic Growth, Human Capital Formation and Consumption in Western Europe Before 1800

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Argues that during the early modern period in Europe living standards gradually rose not only because probate inventories reveal that people were acquiring more and better quality durable goods. They were also increasingly allocating resources to the acquisition of the skills of literacy. Partly, this human capital served to enhance their productivity and earning ability, but it also served for pleasure, edification and gaining status and to this extent it should be considered as a consumer durable too. A quantitative exercise tries to show that if this is factored into the more traditional ‘material consumption’ approach, it can lead to a significant reconsideration of the standard of living debate, in particular, as regards the eighteenth century.

Keywords: book ownership; books; Europe; human capital; literacy; living standards; material consumption; schooling

Chapter.  16854 words. 

Subjects: Economic History

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