Knowledge and how it is used and rewarded in the labour market is a key factor for both the well-being and careers for individuals and for society at large - in past and present times. The acquisition and spread of knowledge serve as starting points for much of the research on education and the labour market conducted at the Department of Economic History in Lund. How is knowledge created and utilised in working life and society in general? What is the role of human capital and skills for individual performance (i.e., careers) and for the performance of firms? To what extent are knowledge and experience remunerated in different contexts and what are the determinants hereof? These and related questions are dealt with in current research at the Department.
One research area includes issues relating to the functioning of the labour market and the role of institutions, but also labour supply, wage differentials, and careers in a historical perspective. Previously much of this research was oriented towards the macro level and the interlinking of institutions, economic growth, and technological and organizational change. Today, research is mainly oriented towards the micro level, and the focus is rather set on labour market outcomes, such as careers and earnings, and the factors that affect these outcomes, from an individual perspective. Extensive work efforts have been devoted to building up databases similar to modern ones in terms of design and content, thereby facilitating historical labour market studies. Research has also been extended to encompass the gender perspective, focusing on women's (relative) position in the labour market, both past and present. The relation between family-building and women's and men's labour supply is also addressed.
The second research area deals with the link between education and economic growth, including projects that construct long time-series related to education and analyse the role of human capital in societal change and economic growth. Projects are also aimed at tracing the historical spread of literacy, with emphasis on its economic significance in a commercialised milieu during the agricultural transformation of the 1800s.
The third area consists of long-established research on vocational education with two distinctive paths. One of the research paths examines how various methods of organising and financing vocational education affect the opportunities and living standards of young people. This includes comparative analyses in an international context. In the second research path, the historical development of vocational education in Sweden is studied. Research topics cover changes in transition regimes, the role of folk high schools, and crucial time periods, pre- 1918, the formative years 1940-1975.
The Department’s researchers maintain strong contacts and close collaborations with international and national researchers as well as with administrative authorities, and participate in several European and international networks focusing on human capital formation, vocational education and labour market institutions.