The Journal of Economic History

ARTICLES

Networks in the Premodern Economy: The Market for London Apprenticeships, 1600–1749

Tim Leuniga1, Chris Minnsa2 and Patrick Wallisa3

a1 Department of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom. Emails: t.leunig@lse.ac.uk, c.minns@lse.ac.uk, and p.h.wallis@lse.ac.uk.

a2 Department of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom. Emails: t.leunig@lse.ac.uk, c.minns@lse.ac.uk, and p.h.wallis@lse.ac.uk.

a3 Department of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom. Emails: t.leunig@lse.ac.uk, c.minns@lse.ac.uk, and p.h.wallis@lse.ac.uk.

Abstract

We examine the role of social and geographical networks in structuring entry into premodern London's skilled occupations. Newly digitized apprenticeship indenture records for 1600–1749 offer little evidence that personal ties strongly shaped apprentice recruitment. The typical London apprentices had no identifiable tie to their master through kin or place of origin. Migrant apprentices' fathers were generally outside the craft sector. The apprenticeship market was strikingly open: well-to-do families accessed a wide range of apprenticeships, and would-be apprentices could match ability and aptitude to opportunity. This fluidity aided human capital formation, with obvious implications for economic development.

(Online publication June 06 2011)

Cliff Webb has been very generous in sharing his data, and Ian Galbraith kindly supplied it to us electronically. Gill Newton at CAMPOP supplied the Double Metaphone algorithm for linking names, Christopher Fish helped with statistical work, and Keith Snell supplied population data. We thank Herb Emery, Gillian Hamilton, Eric Jones, Joel Mokyr, Leigh Shaw Taylor, and participants at the 2008 World Cliometrics Congress, the 2008 CEPR/CREI “Rags to Riches” conference, the 2009 FRESH meeting, and seminar participants at Dalhousie, Harvard, Lund, Oxford, Sussex, and the London Migration Research Group for comments. The input of three referees and the editors of this Journal have led to significant further improvements. All remaining errors are our responsibility.

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