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The Danish agricultural revolution in an energy perspective: a case of development with few domestic energy sources

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  • Sofia Teives Henriques
  • Paul Sharp

Abstract

Is a lack of domestic energy resources necessarily a limiting factor to growth, as suggested for example by the work of Robert C. Allen? We examine the case of Denmark - a country which historically had next to no domestic energy resources - for which we present new historical energy accounts for the years 1800-1913. Focusing on the period of the first Industrial Revolution, we demonstrate that Denmark’s take off at the end of the nineteenth century was in fact relatively energy dependent. We relate this to her well-known agricultural transformation and development through the dairy industry. The Danish cooperative creameries, which spread throughout the country over the last two decades of the nineteenth century, were dependent on coal – a point which has not been stressed before in the literature. Denmark had next to no domestic coal deposits, but we demonstrate that her geography allowed cheap availability throughout the country through imports. Thus, Denmark might be seen as the exception that proves the rule: although modern energy forms are important for growth, domestic energy resources are not necessary, as long as it is possible to import them cheaply from elsewhere.
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  • Sofia Teives Henriques & Paul Sharp, 2016. "The Danish agricultural revolution in an energy perspective: a case of development with few domestic energy sources," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(3), pages 844-869, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:69:y:2016:i:3:p:844-869
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ehr.12236
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    Cited by:

    1. Henriques, Sofia Teives & Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2014. "The Drivers of Long-run CO2 Emissions: A Global Perspective since 1800," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 13/2014, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    2. Kander, Astrid & Warde, Paul & Teives Henriques, Sofia & Nielsen, Hana & Kulionis, Viktoras & Hagen, Sven, 2017. "International Trade and Energy Intensity During European Industrialization, 1870–1935," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 33-44.
    3. Henriques, Sofia Teives & Borowiecki, Karol J., 2017. "The drivers of long-run CO2 emissions in Europe, North America and Japan since 1800," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 537-549.
    4. Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2015. "Just add milk: a productivity analysis of the revolutionary changes in nineteenth-century Danish dairying," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1132-1153, November.
    5. Rubio-Varas, Mar & Muñoz-Delgado, Beatriz, 2019. "Long-term diversification paths and energy transitions in Europe," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 158-168.
    6. Rubio-Varas, Mar & Muñoz-Delgado, Beatriz, 2017. "200 years diversifying the energy mix? Diversification paths of the energy baskets of European early comers vs. latecomers," Working Papers in Economic History 2017/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    7. Teives Henriques, Sofia & Sharp, Paul, 2018. "Without coal in the age of steam and dams in the age of electricity: An explanation for the failure of Portugal to industrialize before the Second World War," Lund Papers in Economic History 185, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    8. Kristin Ranestad & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Success through failure? Four Centuries of Searching for Danish Coal," Working Papers 0183, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    9. Paul Warde & Astrid Kander & Sofia Teives Henriques & Hana Nielsen & Viktoras Kulionis, 2016. "International trade and the energy intensity in Europe, 1870-1935," Working Papers 16026, Economic History Society.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy

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