Cliometrics, child labor, and the industrial revolution

Critical Review 13 (3-4):269-283 (1999)
Abstract
Abstract Ten years ago, Clark Nardinelli shocked conventional historians by reinterpreting child labor as a sensible response to the Industrial Revolution. Nardinelli's exculpation of child labor follows front the way in which he deploys neoclassical economic theory. How relevant is his neoclassical model to the early industrial economy, and how realistic is methodological individualism to the decisions that sent young children into the appalling work places of early industrial Britain? Rather than seeing neoclassical economics as a substitute for historical judgment, as Nardinelli suggests, I propose that we use it critically to probe the meaning and implications of child labor in its historical context.
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