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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

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  • Sofia Teives Henriques
  • Paul Sharp

Abstract

We provide a natural resource explanation for the divergence of the Portuguese economy relative to other European countries before the Second World War. First, we demonstrate that a lack of domestic resources meant that Portugal experienced limited and unbalanced growth during the age of steam. Imports of coal were prohibitively expensive for inland areas. Coastal areas industrialized through steam but were constrained by limited demand from the interior. Second, we show that after the First World War, when other coal-poor countries turned to hydro-power, Portugal relied on coal-based thermal-power, creating a vicious circle of high-energy prices and labor-intensive industrialization.

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  • Sofia Teives Henriques & Paul Sharp, 2021. "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," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 85-105.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ereveh:v:25:y:2021:i:1:p:85-105.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Felício & Sofia T. Henriques & André Serrenho & Tiago Domingos & Tânia Sousa, 2019. "Insights from Past Trends in Exergy Efficiency and Carbon Intensity of Electricity: Portugal, 1900–2014," Energies, MDPI, vol. 12(3), pages 1-22, February.
    2. Sofia Teives Henriques & Paul Sharp & Xanthi Tsoukli & Christian Vedel, 2021. "Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability: Danish Butter Factories in the Face of Coal Shortages," Working Papers 0220, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    3. Kristin Ranestad & Paul Richard Sharp, 2020. "Success through failure? Four Centuries of Searching for Danish Coal," Working Papers 0183, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N54 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy

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