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Not Only Subterranean Forests: Wood Consumption And Economic Development In Britain (1850-1938)

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  • Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi

    ()
    (Department of Applied Economics and Economic History, Faculty of Economics. Gran Vía 4, (50005) Zaragoza, Spain)

  • María Isabel Ayuda

    ()
    (Department of Economic Analysis, Faculty of Economics. Gran Vía 4, (50005) Zaragoza, Spain.)

Abstract

The essential aim of this paper is to analyze wood consumption in Great Britain over the period 1850-1938. We calculate the apparent consumption of wood in Britain, taking into account both net imports of wood and the home harvest of wood. Then we develop some quantitative exercises which correlate wood consumption with GDP, and with prices of wood and iron (as an alternative material to wood). The main conclusion is that, although wood had lost its economic centrality after the energetic transition, wood consumption continued to grow in Britain both in absolute and relative terms, showing a positive elasticity to GDP superior to the unity. The decline of wood prices in the long run, the innovations affecting wood exploitation and treatment, and the fact that wood was used in a wide range of economic activities, can explain that growth in consumption. Britain faced the increase in wood demand relying almost totally on imports. Thus, although British economic development was to a great extent focussed on what has been called the “subterranean forests” of coal, simultaneously supported large tracts of foreign forest.

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Paper provided by Asociación Española de Historia Económica in its series Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) with number 1107.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:1107

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Keywords: wood; forest history; industrialization; consumption function;

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  1. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, April.
  2. Denis Kwiatkowski & Peter C.B. Phillips & Peter Schmidt, 1991. "Testing the Null Hypothesis of Stationarity Against the Alternative of a Unit Root: How Sure Are We That Economic Time Series Have a Unit Root?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 979, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Carrion-i-Silvestre, Josep Lluís & Kim, Dukpa & Perron, Pierre, 2009. "Gls-Based Unit Root Tests With Multiple Structural Breaks Under Both The Null And The Alternative Hypotheses," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(06), pages 1754-1792, December.
  4. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1973. "Innovative Responses to Materials Shortages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 111-18, May.
  5. Donggyu Sul & Peter C. B. Phillips & Chi-Young Choi, 2005. "Prewhitening Bias in HAC Estimation," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(4), pages 517-546, 08.
  6. Iriarte-Goñi, Iñaki & Ayuda, Mari­a Isabel, 2008. "Wood and industrialization: Evidence and hypotheses from the case of Spain, 1860-1935," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 177-186, March.
  7. Wrigley,E. A., 2010. "Energy and the English Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521766937, April.
  8. Fridolin Krausmann & Heinz Schandl & Rolf Peter Sieferle, 2007. "Socio-Ecological Regime Transitions in Austria and the United Kingdom," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2007-05, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
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  10. Schandl, Heinz & Schulz, Niels, 2002. "Changes in the United Kingdom's natural relations in terms of society's metabolism and land-use from 1850 to the present day," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 203-221, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Astrid Kander & David I. Stern, 2013. "Economic Growth and the Transition from Traditional to Modern Energy in Sweden," CAMA Working Papers 2013-65, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  2. Duarte, Rosa & Pinilla, Vicente & Serrano, Ana, 2014. "The effect of globalisation on water consumption: A case study of the Spanish virtual water trade, 1849–1935," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 96-105.

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