24.05.2016

Deskilling and decline in skill premium during the age of sail: Swedish and Finnish seamen, 1751–1913 (Ojala, Eloranta ja Pehkonen)

Professor Jari Ojala and his colleagues have recently published new article Deskilling and decline in skill premium during the age of sail: Swedish and Finnish seamen, 1751–1913 in Explorations in Economic History, vol. 60 (April, 2016). In the article they write about the evolution of skill premium and share at industry level in shipping during the age of sail. They argue that the period from the 1750s to the 1910s represented deskilling for the seamen working in sailing ships. The growth of international trade and shipping during the first era of globalization increased the overall demand for sailors but decreased the relative demand for skilled labor in favor of less skilled ones. This deskilling was associated with a decline in wage inequality, as the premium for high skilled seamen fell relative to mean wages in the shipping industry. The decline in skill premium may have facilitated the growth of trade and shipping, as the relative costs of transport declined. This in turn might have hastened the first era of globalization.

The article can be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498316300353 . For further information, please contact professor Ojala: jari.ojala@jyu.fi .