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Forging Ahead and Falling Behind: The Rise and Relative Decline of the First Industrial Nation

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  • Nicholas Crafts

Abstract

This paper considers Britain's failure to maintain its lead in economic growth in the face of overtaking by the United States. Recent cliometric research is reviewed and it is argued that early nineteenth century Britain had a low growth potential by twentieth century standards and that the American growth of the early twentieth century was of a quite different kind. Neither traditional nor new growth theories can encompass this experience and it is suggested that natural resource endowments, location-specific learning processes, and the international migration of factors of production were central aspects of American overtaking of Britain.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Crafts, 1998. "Forging Ahead and Falling Behind: The Rise and Relative Decline of the First Industrial Nation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 193-210, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:2:p:193-210
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.193
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.12.2.193
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Broadberry, S N, 1994. "Technological Leadership and Productivity Leadership in Manufacturing since the Industrial Revolution: Implications for the Convergence Debate," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 291-302, March.
    2. Crafts, N. F. R., 1995. "Exogenous or Endogenous Growth? The Industrial Revolution Reconsidered," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(04), pages 745-772, December.
    3. N. F. R. Crafts, 1997. "Some Dimensions of the ‘Quality of Life’ During the British Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(4), pages 617-639, November.
    4. Broadberry S. N., 1994. "Comparative Productivity in British and American Manufacturing during the Nineteenth Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 521-548, October.
    5. K. Berrill, 1960. "International Trade And The Rate Of Economic Growth," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 12(3), pages 351-359, April.
    6. Crafts, N. F. R., 1987. "British economic growth, 1700-1850; some difficulties of interpretation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 245-268, July.
    7. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
    8. Abramovitz, Moses, 1993. "The Search for the Sources of Growth: Areas of Ignorance, Old and New," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 217-243, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Cochrane, 2009. "Assessing the Impact of World War I on the City of London," Economics Series Working Papers 456, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Crafts, Nicholas, 1999. "Quantitative economic history," Economic History Working Papers 22390, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas, 2014. "Productivity Growth during the British Industrial Revolution: Revisionism Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 204, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Nicholas, Tom, 1998. "Clogs to clogs in three generations? Explaining entrepreneurial performance in Britain since 1850," Economic History Working Papers 22395, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    5. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "British relative economic decline revisited: The role of competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-29.
    6. Ian W. Mclean, 2004. "Australian Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 80(250), pages 330-345, September.
    7. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 42, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    8. McLean, Ian W., 2007. "Why was Australia so rich?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 635-656, October.
    9. Crafts, Nicholas, 2000. "Development history," Economic History Working Papers 22384, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    10. Nicholas Crafts, 2014. "Industrialization: Why Britain Got There First," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 214, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Morse, Stephen, 2003. "For better or for worse, till the human development index do us part?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 281-296, June.
    12. Jurica Šimurina & Josip Tica, 2006. "Historical Perspective of the Role of Technology in Economic Development," EFZG Working Papers Series 0610, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb.
    13. Julio Martínez-Galarraga & Marc Prat, 2014. "Wages and prices in early Catalan industrialisation," UB Economics Working Papers 2014/305, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)

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