The first industrial revolution a puzzle for growth economists
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The First Industrial Revolution: a Puzzle for Growth Economists. Nick Crafts and Larry Neal. The Holy Grail. To explain the sustained acceleration in economic growth in Britain during the Industrial Revolution The Good News : the explicandum is better described

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The first industrial revolution a puzzle for growth economists

The First Industrial Revolution: a Puzzle for Growth Economists

Nick Crafts and Larry Neal


The holy grail

The Holy Grail

  • To explain the sustained acceleration in economic growth in Britain during the Industrial Revolution

  • The Good News: the explicandum is better described

  • The Bad News: endogenous growth theory does not yet have a persuasive model that fits the facts


British industrial revolution

British Industrial Revolution

  • Modest growth

  • Escape from ‘Malthusian Trap’

  • Large structural change

  • No take-off but TFP growth increases significantly


Growth in britain per year

Growth in Britain (% per year)


Malthusian model crafts mills 2007

Malthusian ModelCrafts & Mills (2007)

LogW = α- βLogPop + ρtTrend growth of W is zero till 1800 while ‘Iron Law’ of wages allows population growth at ρ/β =0.5% pre-1800, = 2% post-1800 based on higher ρEnglish population in 1800 was 3 x 1550 population but no sign of positive feedback from population to technological progress

The key feature of the industrial revolution is the dog that didn’t bark – rapid population growth was sustained without a collapse in real wages


Employment composition

Employment Composition (%)


Agricultural total employment at british 1840 income level

Agricultural/Total Employment at British 1840 Income Level (%)


Family to capitalist farming

Family to Capitalist Farming

  • Disappearance of small farms

  • Release of surplus labour

  • Promotes industrialization

  • ‘Explains’ British divergence from ‘European Norm’


Simulated 1841 economy crafts harley 2004

Simulated 1841 EconomyCrafts & Harley (2004)


Institutions theory

Institutions, Theory

  • “Rules of the game” set incentives and constraints for “play” by economic agents.

  • “Winners” become incumbents, resist institutional change

  • “Losers” adapt, exit, or revolt


Institutions are persistent

Institutions are persistent

  • New rules emerge in response to external shocks; they do not evolve gradually

  • New institutions are conditioned by adaptations of past losers

  • New institutions are fragile; reversals are typical. Legitimacy is hard to establish


Institutions matter

Institutions Matter

  • Modern economic growth associated with modern institutions:nation statesecularismconstitutional governmentextension of the franchise


Institutions matter1

Institutions Matter

  • Issue of causality confounded by advantages of backwardness for followers, who can: substitute capital skip learning stagesadopt most advanced technologyimport capital, skills, institutions


Slow tfp growth

Slow TFP Growth

  • Uneven technological progress

  • Slow incremental improvements and diffusion of well-known inventions, e.g. steam power

  • Disincentives to innovative activity

  • Confirmed by growth of wages (Clark, 2005)


Tfp growth

TFP Growth

  • Much slower and less pervasive than ‘old-hat view’ believed

  • Sustained acceleration from 2nd quarter of 19th century indicates new era of growth

  • Note the (delayed) impact of steam


Total steam contribution to growth of labour productivity per year

Total Steam Contribution to Growth of Labour Productivity (% per year)

Source: Crafts (2003): includes railway, steamships, steam engines


1780 1860 ingenuity or abstention crafts 2004b

1780-1860: Ingenuity or Abstention ?Crafts (2004b)

  • TFP growth accounted for less than 30% of GDP growth

  • TFP growth accounted for 70% of labour productivity growth

  • TFP growth and new varieties of capital goods accounted for 87% of labour productivity growth


Sources of labour productivity growth 1780 1860 crafts 2005 per year

Sources of Labour Productivity Growth, 1780-1860(Crafts, 2005) (% peryear)


Why was britain first

Why Was Britain First ?

  • Timing of acceleration in TFP growth much harder to explain than structural change

  • Search but success not guaranteed

  • Inventions and market demand

  • The Peso Problem

  • Macro-inventions

  • NEG and agglomerations


Endogenous innovation models

Endogenous Innovation Models

  • Expected technological progress is faster if appropriability of returns improves productivity of R & D inputs goes up markets get bigger


Endogenous growth

^

k

Endogenous Growth

Schumpeter relationship (high λ)

x

Schumpeter (low λ)

Solow (high s)

Solow steady-state relationship (low s)


Growth potential

Growth Potential

  • In later 18th century quite probable that growth potential higher in Britain than in France or 16th_century Britain (cf. Crafts, 1995)

  • Britain better at micro-inventions but what does that tell us about the ex-ante probability of making the decisive inventions in cotton and getting ahead in the key sector ?


Implications for unified growth theory

Implications for Unified Growth Theory

  • Industrial revolution is more than a scale effect of bigger population (cf. Kremer, 1993)

  • Period of sustained demographic pressure is prolonged and escape from Malthusian Trap involves substantial increase in TFP growth (cf. Galor & Weil, 2000)

  • Understanding the acceleration of technological progress is central; the ‘national innovation system’ (cf Mokyr, 2002) not the size of the population is the heart of the matter


Role of markets land labor capital entrepreneurs

Role of Markets: Land, Labor, Capital, Entrepreneurs

  • Markets allocate resources more efficiently than alternative methods: Command economiesCustom in traditional economies

  • Hicks’ dilemma:Command is usual response to shocksCustom emerges in absence of shocks


Role of finance mobilize resources

Role of Finance: Mobilize Resources

  • Hicks’ resolution of dilemma:European invention of city-states governed by merchant elites committed to maintenance of markets

  • Neal’s resolution of dilemma:Governments that use debt markets to respond to shocks committed to use labor and capital markets as well


Tales of two institutions

Tales of Two Institutions


Tales of two institutions1

Tales of Two Institutions


Tales of two revolutions

Tales of Two Revolutions

  • Bordo-White compare UK & France during Napoleonic Wars

  • UK wins, despite flexible exchange rates, fiat currency, and tax shocks.Why? Credible commitment for debt

  • France loses, despite fixed exchange rates, and balanced budget.Why? Napoleon’s defeat in Russia.


Neal s tale of two revolutions

Neal’s Tale of Two Revolutions

  • Capital flight initiated by French revolution elimination of feudal rights

  • Capital fled to merchant centers throughout Europe, using private trade credit circuits

  • British war finance resumes on 18th c. model, fails with fall of Amsterdam, leads to paper pound


Neal s tale of french revolution

Neal’s Tale of French Revolution

  • Flexible exchange rate of pound “locks in” foreign capital in London’s capital market

  • Continental Blockade destroys UK system of war finance, as intended

  • Napoleon’s capital levies throughout conquered Europe increase flight capital to London


Tale of two revolutions

Tale of Two Revolutions

  • France: establishes property rights, rule of law, constitutional monarchy, and funded government debt by end of 1815.

  • New institutions constantly under threat and revised periodically through 1871.

  • Lesson: Institutions matter, but hard to legitimate and incorporate in new setting


Tale of two revolutions1

Tale of Two Revolutions

  • Great Britain: switches capital formation to capital goods industry, reducing relative cost of capital permanently (cf. Hicks)

  • Key to success is arms-length financial markets maintained by government throughout conflicts with France

  • Postwar settlement difficult: Corn Laws, repatriation of capital, de-mobilization,

  • TFP resumes rise by 1830, accelerates after 1850


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