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Made in America? The New World, the Old, and the Industrial Revolution

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  • Clark, Gregory
  • O'Rourke, Kevin H
  • Taylor, Alan M

Abstract

For two decades, the consensus explanation of the British Industrial Revolution has placed technological change and the supply side at center stage, affording little or no role for demand or overseas trade. Recently, alternative explanations have placed an emphasis on the importance of trade with New World colonies, and the expanded supply of raw cotton it provided. We test both hypotheses using calibrated general equilibrium models of the British economy and the rest of the world for 1760 and 1850. Neither claim is supported. Trade was vital for the progress of the industrial revolution; but it was trade with the rest of the world, not the American colonies, that allowed Britain to export its rapidly expanding textile output and achieve growth through extreme specialization in response to shifting comparative advantage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6856.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6856

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Keywords: British Industrial Revolution; colonies; Great Divergence; growth; specialisation; trade;

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  1. Mokyr, Joel, 2005. "The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 285-351, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Ricardo Argüello C.a, 2009. "Latin America and the international economic CRISIS: THE TRADE CHANNEL," ECONOMÍA, GESTIÓN Y DESARROLLO 009340, UNIVERSIDAD JAVERIANA - CALI.
  2. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2012. "From Empire to Europe: Britain in the World Economy," Economics Series Working Papers Number 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti & Pessôa, Samuel & Santos, Marcelo Rodrigues, 2011. "Globalization and the Industrial Revolution," Insper Working Papers wpe_253, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
  4. Hersh, Jonathan & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2009. "Sweet Diversity: Colonial Goods and the Rise of European Living Standards after 1492," CEPR Discussion Papers 7386, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Meissner, Christopher M., 2014. "Growth from Globalization? A View from the Very Long Run," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 1033-1069 Elsevier.
  6. David Harvey & Neil Kellard & Jakob Madsen & Mark Wohar, 2012. "Trends and Cycles in Real Commodity Prices: 1650-2010," CEH Discussion Papers 010, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

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