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Not Only Subterranean Forests: Wood Consumption And Economic Development In Britain (1850-1938)

Author

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  • Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi

    () (Department of Applied Economics and Economic History, Faculty of Economics. Gran Vía 4, (50005) Zaragoza, Spain)

  • María Isabel Ayuda

    () (Department of Economic Analysis, Faculty of Economics. Gran Vía 4, (50005) Zaragoza, Spain.)

Abstract

The essential aim of this paper is to analyze wood consumption in Great Britain over the period 1850-1938. We calculate the apparent consumption of wood in Britain, taking into account both net imports of wood and the home harvest of wood. Then we develop some quantitative exercises which correlate wood consumption with GDP, and with prices of wood and iron (as an alternative material to wood). The main conclusion is that, although wood had lost its economic centrality after the energetic transition, wood consumption continued to grow in Britain both in absolute and relative terms, showing a positive elasticity to GDP superior to the unity. The decline of wood prices in the long run, the innovations affecting wood exploitation and treatment, and the fact that wood was used in a wide range of economic activities, can explain that growth in consumption. Britain faced the increase in wood demand relying almost totally on imports. Thus, although British economic development was to a great extent focussed on what has been called the “subterranean forests” of coal, simultaneously supported large tracts of foreign forest.

Suggested Citation

  • Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi & María Isabel Ayuda, 2011. "Not Only Subterranean Forests: Wood Consumption And Economic Development In Britain (1850-1938)," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1107, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ahe:dtaehe:1107
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kander, Astrid & Stern, David I., 2014. "Economic growth and the transition from traditional to modern energy in Sweden," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 56-65.
    2. Duarte, Rosa & Pinilla, Vicente & Serrano, Ana, 2014. "The water footprint of the Spanish agricultural sector: 1860–2010," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 200-207.
    3. Rosa Duarte & Vicente Pinilla & Ana Serrano, 2015. "Global water in a global world a long term study on agricultural virtual water flows in the world," Documentos de Trabajo dt2015-03, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Zaragoza.
    4. Duarte, Rosa & Pinilla, Vicente & Serrano, Ana, 2014. "The effect of globalisation on water consumption: A case study of the Spanish virtual water trade, 1849–1935," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 96-105.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wood; forest history; industrialization; consumption function;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • 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
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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