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Coal and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1869

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  • Gregory Clark
  • David Jacks

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

How important was coal to the Industrial Revolution? Despite the huge growth of output, and the grip of coal and steam on the popular image of the Industrial Revolution, recent cliometric accounts have assumed coal mining mattered little to the Industrial Revolution. In contrast both E. A. Wrigley and Kenneth Pomeranz have made coal central to the story. This paper constructs new series on coal rents, the price of coal at pithead and at market, and the price of firewood, and uses them to examine this issue. We conclude coal output expanded in the Industrial Revolution mainly as a result of increased demand rather than technological innovations in mining. But that expansion could have occurred at any time before 1760. Further our coal rents series suggests that English possession of coal reserves made a negligible contribution to Industrial Revolution incomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 616.

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Length: 54
Date of creation: 10 Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:06-16

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Keywords: economics; revolution; coal; industrial;

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Cited by:
  1. repec:clg:wpaper:2012-08 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Clark, Gregory, 2014. "The Industrial Revolution," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 217-262 Elsevier.
  3. Sofia Teives Henriques & Paul Sharp, 2014. "The Danish Agricultural Revolution in an Energy Perspective: A Case of Development with Few Domestic Energy Sources," Working Papers 0056, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  4. Ralf R. Meisenzahl & Joel Mokyr, 2011. "The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 443-479 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gregory Clark & Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "The Growing Dependence of Britain on Trade During the Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _126, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  6. Gregory Clark, 2006. "What made Britannia great? Did the Industrial Revolution make Britain a World Power?," Working Papers 618, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  7. Alex Trew, 2014. "Spatial Takeoff in the First Industrial Revolution," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201401, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews, revised 01 Jan 2014.
  8. Steinmueller, W. Edward, 2013. "The pre-industrial energy crisis and resource scarcity as a source of transition," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(10), pages 1739-1748.
  9. 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.
  10. Gregory Clark, 2012. "The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850 : Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 85-95, March.

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