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What made Britannia great? Did the Industrial Revolution make Britain a World Power?

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  • Gregory Clark

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

How much of Britain's high living standards and military power compared to its competitors in 1850 should be attributed to Britain having first experienced the Industrial Revolution? Examining data on real wages in the north and south of England, the Netherlands and Ireland in the Industrial Revolution era, this paper contends that most of the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution benefited Britain's competitors as much as Britain itself. Britain attained higher outputs per person and higher living standards before the Industrial Revolution, not because of it. Her growing military power and industrial might in the years 1740 to 1850 was instead the product of its unusually rapid population growth. Britain's rise to world dominance was a product more of the bedroom labors of British workers than of their factory toil.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 618.

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Length: 44
Date of creation: 01 May 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:06-18

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Keywords: chinese; britain;

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References

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  1. Gregory Clark & David Jacks, 2006. "Coal and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1869," Working Papers 616, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  2. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
  3. Temin, Peter, 1997. "Two Views of the British Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(01), pages 63-82, March.
  4. Gregory Clark, 2001. "The Long March of History: Farm Laborers Wages in England 1208-1850," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000238, David K. Levine.
  5. Clark, Gregory, 1998. "Land Hunger: Land as a Commodity and as a Status Good, England, 1500-1910," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 59-82, January.
  6. Clark, Gregory, 2002. "Shelter From The Storm: Housing And The Industrial Revolution, 1550 1909," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 489-511, June.
  7. Nicholas Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002. "Precocious British industrialization: a general equilibrium perspective," Economic History Working Papers 22368, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  8. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  9. P. J. Cain & A. G. Hopkins, 1986. "Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Expansion Overseas I. The Old Colonial System, 1688-1850," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 39(4), pages 501-525, November.
  10. Patrick Karl O'Brien, 1996. "Path dependency, or why Britain became an industrialized and urbanized economy long before France," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(2), pages 213-249, 05.
  11. Gregory Clark, 2001. "Farm Wages and Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution: England,1670–1869[This resea]," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 54(3), pages 477-505, 08.
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