Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 217–235 | Cite as

Book production and the onset of modern economic growth

  • Joerg Baten
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden


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 production Economic growth Human capital 

JEL Classifications

O14 O40 N10 


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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

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