Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 217–235

Book production and the onset of modern economic growth


DOI: 10.1007/s10887-008-9031-9

Cite this article as:
Baten, J. & van Zanden, J.L. J Econ Growth (2008) 13: 217. doi:10.1007/s10887-008-9031-9


We provide a new data set on per capita book production as a proxy for advanced literacy skills, and assess this relative to other measures. While literacy proxies very basic skills, book production per capita is an indicator for more advanced capabilities. Growth theory suggests that human capital formation plays a significant role in creating the ‘wealth of nations.’ This study tests whether human capital formation has an impact on early-modern growth disparities. In contrast to some previous studies which denied the role of human capital as a crucial determinant of long-term growth, we confirm its importance.


Book productionEconomic growthHuman capital

JEL Classifications


Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, and CESifoUniversity of TuebingenTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Utrecht University and Internation Institute Social HistoryAmsterdamThe Netherlands