Sunday, February 13, 2011

Economics of the Printing Press

It's likely that the printing press played a part in the Industrial Revolution. Here's estimate of it's impact on population:
Historians observe that printing diffused from Mainz in “concentric circles” (Barbier 2006). Distance from Mainz was significantly associated with early adoption of the printing press, but neither with city growth before the diffusion of printing nor with other observable determinants of subsequent growth. The geographic pattern of diffusion thus arguably allows us to identify exogenous variation in adoption. Exploiting distance from Mainz as an instrument for adoption, I find large and significant estimates of the relationship between the adoption of the printing press and city growth. I find a 60 percentage point growth advantage between 1500-1600.
Here's an example of how:
Cities that adopted print media benefitted from positive spillovers in human capital accumulation and technological change broadly defined. These spillovers exerted an upward pressure on the returns to labour, made cities culturally dynamic, and attracted migrants.


  1. It's one of the most prolific invention by humankind.

  2. I wonder what rivals it.

    The internet, the vaccine, the steam engine, the telegraph, the toilet, refrigeration, the railroad, birth control pill, the cell phone/smart phone, gun powder, the car, the plane, and of course, the blog.

  3. hmm... I guess Printing is the root of it . It made dissemination of knowledge simpler and faster to more number of people. Due to printing more people started contributing and inventing all great things with the knowledge acquired through reading . It also helped in documenting the things for future reference.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.