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Coal and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1869

Author

Listed:
  • Gregory Clark
  • David Jacks

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

How important was coal to the Industrial Revolution? Despite the huge growth of output, and the grip of coal and steam on the popular image of the Industrial Revolution, recent cliometric accounts have assumed coal mining mattered little to the Industrial Revolution. In contrast both E. A. Wrigley and Kenneth Pomeranz have made coal central to the story. This paper constructs new series on coal rents, the price of coal at pithead and at market, and the price of firewood, and uses them to examine this issue. We conclude coal output expanded in the Industrial Revolution mainly as a result of increased demand rather than technological innovations in mining. But that expansion could have occurred at any time before 1760. Further our coal rents series suggests that English possession of coal reserves made a negligible contribution to Industrial Revolution incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory Clark & David Jacks, 2006. "Coal and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1869," Working Papers 616, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:06-16
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Gregory Clark & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "The growing dependence of Britain on trade during the Industrial Revolution," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(2), pages 109-136, June.
    3. Gregory Clark, 2012. "The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850 : Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 85-95, March.
    4. Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Gregory Clark & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "The growing dependence of Britain on trade during the Industrial Revolution," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _126, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. repec:clg:wpaper:2012-08 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gregory Clark, 2006. "What made Britannia great? Did the Industrial Revolution make Britain a World Power?," Working Papers 618, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    7. 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.
    8. Gregory Clark & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2008. "Made in America? The New World, the Old, and the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 523-528, May.
    9. Tepper, Alexander & Borowiecki, Karol Jan, 2015. "Accounting for breakout in Britain: The industrial revolution through a Malthusian lens," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 219-233.
    10. Gregory Clark & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "The growing dependence of Britain on trade during the Industrial Revolution," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(2), pages 109-136, June.
    11. Madureira, Nuno Luis, 2012. "The iron industry energy transition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 24-34.
    12. Steinmueller, W. Edward, 2013. "The pre-industrial energy crisis and resource scarcity as a source of transition," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(10), pages 1739-1748.
    13. Greasley, David & Hanley, Nick & Kunnas, Jan & McLaughlin, Eoin & Oxley, Les & Warde, Paul, 2014. "Testing genuine savings as a forward-looking indicator of future well-being over the (very) long-run," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 171-188.
    14. Alex Trew, 2014. "Spatial Takeoff in the First Industrial Revolution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 707-725, October.
    15. Clark, Gregory, 2014. "The Industrial Revolution," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 217-262 Elsevier.
    16. Ralf R. Meisenzahl & Joel Mokyr, 2011. "The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 443-479 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Gregory Clark & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2014. "The growing dependence of Britain on trade during the Industrial Revolution," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(2), pages 109-136, June.
    18. W. Walker Hanlon, 2016. "Coal Smoke and the Costs of the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 22921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economics; revolution; coal; industrial;

    JEL classification:

    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy

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