The prevailing view of industrialization has focussed on technology, capital, entrepreneurship and the institutions that enabled them to be deployed. Labour was often equated with other factors of production, and assigned a relatively passive role. Yet it was labour absorption and the improvement of the quality of labour over the course of several centuries that underscored the timing, pace and quality of global industrialization. While science and technology developed in the West and whereas the use of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, were vital to this process, the more recent history has been underpinned by the development of comparatively resource- and energy-saving technology, without which the diffusion of industrialization would not have been possible. The labour-intensive, resource-saving path, which emerged in East Asia under the influence of Western technology and institutions, and is diffusing across the world, suggests the most realistic route humans could take for a further diffusion of industrialization, which might respond to the rising expectations of living standards without catastrophic environmental degradation.

chapter 1|19 pages


ByGareth Austin, Kaoru Sugihara

chapter 2|45 pages

Labour-intensive industrialization in global history

An interpretation of East Asian experiences 1
ByKaoru Sugihara

chapter 3|20 pages

The industrious revolutions in East and West

ByJan de Vries

chapter 4|22 pages

Proto-industrialization and labour-intensive industrialization

Reflections on Smithian growth and the role of skill intensity *
ByOsamu Saito

chapter 5|15 pages

Labour-intensity and industrialization in colonial India

ByTirthankar Roy

chapter 6|22 pages

Labour-intensive industrialization in the rural Yangzi Delta

Late imperial patterns and their modern fates
ByKenneth Pomeranz

chapter 7|32 pages

From peasant economy to urban agglomeration

The transformation of ‘labour-intensive industrialization' in modern Japan
ByMasayuki Tanimoto

chapter 9|30 pages

Labour-intensity and manufacturing in West Africa, c.1450–c.2000

ByGareth Austin

chapter 10|32 pages

‘Colonial' industry and ‘modern' manufacturing

Opportunities for labour-intensive growth in Latin America, c.1800–1940s
ByColin M. Lewis

chapter 11|17 pages

Labour-intensive industrialization

The case of nineteenth-century Alsace
ByMichel Hau, Nicolas Stoskopf

chapter 12|23 pages

Labour-intensive industrialization and global economic development

Reflections 1
ByGareth Austin