Time for Growth

Lars Boerner, Battista Severgnini

Research output: Working paperResearch


This paper studies the impact of the early adoption of one of the most important high-technology machines in history, the public mechanical clock, on long-run growth in Europe. We avoid endogeneity by considering the relationship between the adoption of clocks with two sets of instruments: distance from the first adopters and the appearance of repeated solar eclipses. The latter instrument is motivated by the predecessor technologies of mechanical clocks, astronomic instruments that measured the course of heavenly bodies. We find significant growth rates between 1500 and 1700 in the range of 30 percentage points in early adoptor cities and areas.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2015
SeriesEconomic History Working Papers


  • Technological adoption
  • Cities
  • Mechanical clocks
  • Information technology

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