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L'économie française dans le contexte européen à la fin du XVIIIe siècle

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  • Paul Bairoch

Abstract

[eng] The french economy in the european context at the end of the eighteenth century France with its 28 millions inhabitants was the most populous country of Europe (without Russia) that had 144 millions. It had an average level of urbanization but with Paris it had the second largest city of Europe (London had only recently surpassed it). The combination of an average level of technology and good but not too densely populated soil led to a rather productive agriculture. Industry was characterized by a rather high level of technology, and an average level of industrialization with, however, the most important embryo of modem industries of continental Europe. Strategically located with large outlets on the Atlantic and the Mediterranea, France was a major commercial power just behind England. If one disregards the fact that the years preceding the Revolution were probably, as in the rest of Europe, negative ones, France can be considered as a rich country. One of the three or four of the richest countries of Europe but Europe, as the rest of the world, was then characterized by very limited differences of income level. [fre] L'économie française dans le contexte européen à la fin du XVIIIe siècle Dans ses frontières de l'époque, la France, avec ses 28 millions d'habitants, était le pays le plus peuplé d'Europe (sans la Russie) qui en comptait 144 millions. Pays moyennement urbanisé, mais qui, avec Paris, disposait de la seconde ville d'Europe (Londres d'ailleurs n'avait dépassé Paris que depuis peu). Un niveau technologique moyen, allié à de bonnes terres modérément peuplées, conduisit à une agriculture assez productive. En ce qui concerne l'industrie, on notera trois caractéristiques principales : un niveau technique assez avancé ; une importance moyenne ; un embryon d'industries modernes le plus imponant d'Europe continentale. Située stratégiquement, avec de larges façades sur l'Atlantique et la Méditerranée, la France était une grande puissance commerciale juste derrière l'Angleterre. Si l'on exclut le fait que la Révolution s'est déroulée à une période plutôt défavorable (comme cela était probablement aussi le cas dans le reste de l'Europe continentale), la France était plutôt un pays riche. Un des trois-quatre pays les plus riches d'Europe, mais d'une Europe qui, comme toutes les régions avant les bouleversements de la révolution industrielle, était caractérisée par de faibles inégalités du niveau de vie.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Bairoch, 1989. "L'économie française dans le contexte européen à la fin du XVIIIe siècle," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 40(6), pages 939-964.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_1989_num_40_6_409179
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