WP  Global Economy  2020.03.30

Working Paper(20-003E)Impacts of the Industrial Revolution on Wages and Skills of Workers: The Silk Weaving Industry in Early Twentieth-Century Japan

This is working paper.

 This paper explores the implications of technological change on the wages and skills of workers in early twentieth-century Japan. The Japanese economy experienced essential elements of the industrial revolution, such as the adoption of the factory system and mechanization, in this period. Exploiting detailed plant-level data on the silk weaving industry, we compare wage and composition of workers between powered plants and non-powered plants. We found that (a) the wage, (b) the relative wage of male adult workers to female adult workers, and (c) the ratio of male workers, were all higher at powered plants than non-powered plants. (a) reflects the higher marginal productivity of labour, while (b) and (c) reflect the emergence of a new type of skilled worker, i.e. mechanics.

Key words: Industrial Revolution, Standard of living, Technological change, Wage, Technology-skill complementarity, Textile industry, Japan

JEL classification numbers: D22, D24, D33, J31, L67, N35, N65, O33