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

  • Nicholas Crafts

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.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.12.2.193
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 193-210

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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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  1. Nicholas Crafts, 1997. "Some dimensions of the 'quality of life' during the British industrial revolution," Economic History Working Papers 20349, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. K. Berrill, 1960. "International Trade And The Rate Of Economic Growth," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 12(3), pages 351-359, 04.
  3. 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.
  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 1211-19, December.
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