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Occupational choice and the spirit of capitalism


Doepke, Matthias; Zilibotti, Fabrizio (2008). Occupational choice and the spirit of capitalism. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2):747-793.

Abstract

The British Industrial Revolution triggered a socioeconomic transformation whereby the landowning aristocracy was replaced by industrial capitalists rising from the middle classes as the economically dominant group. We propose a theory of preference formation under financial-market imperfections that can account for this pattern. Parents shape their children’s preferences in response to economic incentives. Middleclass families in occupations requiring effort, skill, and experience develop patience and work ethic, whereas upper-class families relying on rental income cultivate a refined taste for leisure. These class-specific attitudes, which are rooted in the nature of pre-industrial professions, become key determinants of success once industrialization transforms the economic landscape.

Abstract

The British Industrial Revolution triggered a socioeconomic transformation whereby the landowning aristocracy was replaced by industrial capitalists rising from the middle classes as the economically dominant group. We propose a theory of preference formation under financial-market imperfections that can account for this pattern. Parents shape their children’s preferences in response to economic incentives. Middleclass families in occupations requiring effort, skill, and experience develop patience and work ethic, whereas upper-class families relying on rental income cultivate a refined taste for leisure. These class-specific attitudes, which are rooted in the nature of pre-industrial professions, become key determinants of success once industrialization transforms the economic landscape.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Language:English
Date:May 2008
Deposited On:20 Nov 2008 14:40
Last Modified:06 May 2020 20:42
Publisher:MIT Press
ISSN:0033-5533
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1162/qjec.2008.123.2.747

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