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Accounting for breakout in Britain: The Industrial Revolution through a Malthusian lens

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  • Alexander Tepper
  • Karol Jan Borowiecki

Abstract

This paper develops a simple dynamic model to examine the breakout from a Malthusian economy to a modern growth regime. It identifies several factors that determine the fastest rate at which the population can grow without engendering declining living standards; this is termed maximum sustainable population growth. We then apply the framework to Britain and find a dramatic increase in sustainable population growth at the time of the Industrial Revolution, well before the beginning of modern levels of income growth. The main contributions to the British breakout were technological improvements and structural change away from agricultural production, while coal, capital, and trade played a minor role.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 639.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:639

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Related research

Keywords: Population aging ; Demography ; Industrial capacity ; Industrial productivity ; Industrial organization (Economic theory) ; Economic history ; Great Britain;

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  1. Antras, Pol & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2003. "Factor Prices and Productivity Growth During the British Industrial Revolution," Scholarly Articles 3199066, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Broadberry, Stephen & Campbell, Bruce M.S. & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 16-27.
  3. Stephen Broadberry & Bruce Campbell & Alexander Klein & Mark Overton & Bas van Leeuwen, 2012. "British Economic Growth, 1270-1870: an output-based approach," Studies in Economics 1203, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  4. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-25, April.
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