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Accounting for Breakout in Britain: The Industrial Revolution through a Malthusian Lens

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Author Info

  • Tepper, Alexander

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Borowiecki, Karol Jan

    ()
    (Department of Business and Economics)

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 Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark in its series Discussion Papers of Business and Economics with number 14/2013.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: 02 Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sdueko:2013_014

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Postal: Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
Phone: 65 50 32 33
Fax: 65 50 32 37
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Web page: http://www.sdu.dk/ivoe
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Related research

Keywords: Industrial Revolution; Malthusian Dynamics; Maximum Sustainable Population Growth; Development; Demographics;

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  1. Antras, Pol & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2003. "Factor prices and productivity growth during the British industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 52-77, January.
  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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  1. Malthusian trap in Wikipedia (English)

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