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When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851

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  • Broadberry, Stephen
  • Campbell, Bruce M.S.
  • van Leeuwen, Bas

Abstract

Britain's labour force industrialised early. The industrial and service sectors already accounted for 40% of the labour force in 1381, and a substantial further shift of labour out of agriculture occurred between 1522 and 1700. From the early seventeenth century rising agricultural labour productivity underpinned steadily increasing employment in industry and services, so that by 1759 agriculture's share of the labour force had shrunk to 37% and industry's grown to 34%. Thereafter, industry's output acceleration during the Industrial Revolution owed more to gains in labour productivity consequent upon mechanisation than the expansion of employment.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:50:y:2013:i:1:p:16-27
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.08.004
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labour force; Sectoral distribution; Labour productivity; Britain;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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