IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ready for Revolution? The English Economy before 1800


  • Morgan Kelly

    (University College Dublin)

  • Cormac O Grada

    (University College Dublin)


Sustained economic growth in England can be traced back to the early seventeenth century. That earlier growth, albeit modest, both generated and was sustained by a demographic regime that entailed relatively high wages, and by an increasing endowment of human capital in the form of a relatively adaptable and skilled labour force. Healthier and savvier English workers were better equipped to profit from the technological possibilities available to them, and to build on them. Technological change and economic growth stemmed from such human capital rather than Boserupian forces. They were the product of England’s resource endowment and its institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Morgan Kelly & Cormac O Grada, 2014. "Ready for Revolution? The English Economy before 1800," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 209, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:209

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Floud,Roderick & Humphries,Jane & Johnson,Paul (ed.), 2014. "The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107038455, November.
    2. Floud,Roderick & Humphries,Jane & Johnson,Paul (ed.), 2014. "The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107631434, November.
    3. E. A. Wrigley, 2007. "Erratum: English county populations in the later eighteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(2), pages 456-456, May.
    4. Minns, Chris & Wallis, Patrick, 2013. "The price of human capital in a pre-industrial economy: Premiums and apprenticeship contracts in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 335-350.
    5. Simon Ville, 1986. "Total Factor Productivity in the English Shipping Industry: The North-east Coal Trade, 1700-1850′," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 39(3), pages 355-370, August.
    6. Floud,Roderick & Humphries,Jane & Johnson,Paul (ed.), 2014. "The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107686731, November.
    7. Floud,Roderick & Humphries,Jane & Johnson,Paul (ed.), 2014. "The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107038462, November.
    8. Allen, Robert C. & Bengtsson, Tommy & Dribe, Martin (ed.), 2005. "Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199280681, Decembrie.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Judy Z. Stephenson, 2018. "‘Real’ wages? Contractors, workers, and pay in London building trades, 1650–1800," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 106-132, February.
    2. Alexandra M. de Pleijt, 2018. "Human capital formation in the long run: evidence from average years of schooling in England, 1300–1900," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 12(1), pages 99-126, January.
    3. de Pleijt, Alexandra M., 2015. "Human capital and long run economic growth : Evidence from the stock of human capital in England, 1300-1900," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 229, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Adam Crymble & Adam Dennett & Tim Hitchcock, 2018. "Modelling regional imbalances in English plebeian migration to late eighteenth‐century London†," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(3), pages 747-771, August.
    2. Wallis, Patrick & Colson, Justin & Chilosi, David, 2016. "Puncturing the Malthus delusion: structural change in the British economy before the industrial revolution, 1500-1800," Economic History Working Papers 66816, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Studer, Roman, 2008. "India and the Great Divergence: Assessing the Efficiency of Grain Markets in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century India," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 393-437, June.
    4. Joseph Molitoris & Martin Dribe, 2016. "Industrialization and inequality revisited: mortality differentials and vulnerability to economic stress in Stockholm, 1878–1926," European Review of Economic History, European Historical Economics Society, vol. 20(2), pages 176-197.
    5. Bengtsson, Tommy & Broström, Göran, 2009. "Do conditions in early life affect old-age mortality directly and indirectly? Evidence from 19th-century rural Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(9), pages 1583-1590, May.
    6. Qing Pei & David D Zhang & Harry F Lee & Guodong Li, 2014. "Climate Change and Macro-Economic Cycles in Pre-Industrial Europe," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(2), pages 1-8, February.
    7. Luciana Quaranta, 2011. "Agency of Change: Fertility and Seasonal Migration in a Nineteenth Century Alpine Community [Les agents du changement: fécondité et migration saisonnière dans une communauté des Alpes au 19e siècle," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 27(4), pages 457-485, November.
    8. Moshe Justman & Karine Beek, 2015. "Market forces shaping human capital in eighteenth-century London," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1177-1202, November.
    9. Tirthankar Roy, 2012. "Consumption Of Cotton Cloth In India, 1795–1940," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 52(1), pages 61-84, March.
    10. Broadberry Stephen, 2012. "Recent Developments in the Theory of Very Long Run Growth: A Historical Appraisal," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 53(1), pages 277-306, May.
    11. David de la Croix & Matthias Doepke & Joel Mokyr, 2018. "Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Preindustrial Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 133(1), pages 1-70.
    12. Nuno Palma & André C. Silva, 2024. "Spending A Windfall," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 65(1), pages 283-313, February.
    13. Thomas Barnebeck Andersen & Jeanet Bentzen & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Paul Sharp, 2010. "Religious Orders and Growth through Cultural Change in Pre-Industrial England," DEGIT Conference Papers c015_036, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    14. Mikolaj Malinowski, 2013. "East of Eden: Polish living standards in a European perspective, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 0043, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    15. Ward, W. Peter, 2013. "Stature, migration and human welfare in South China, 1850–1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 488-501.
    16. Mauricio Drelichman & David Gonzalez Agudo, 2012. "What price a roof? Housing and the cost of living in 16th-century Toledo," Working Papers 12004, Economic History Society.
    17. Sophia Du Plessis & Stan Du Plessis, 2012. "Happy in the Service of the Company: The Purchasing Power of VOC Salaries at the Cape in the 18th Century," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 125-149.
    18. B. Zorina Khan, 2018. "Human capital, knowledge and economic development: evidence from the British Industrial Revolution, 1750–1930," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 12(2), pages 313-341, May.
    19. Deng, Kent & O'Brien, Patrick, 2017. "How Well Did Facts Travel to Support Protracted Debate on the History of the Great Divergence between Western Europe and Imperial China?," MPRA Paper 77290, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Guinnane, Timothy W. & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2008. "Institutions and Demographic Responses to Shocks: Wuttemberg, 1634-1870," Center Discussion Papers 5977, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.

    More about this item


    economic history; industrial revolution;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:209. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Jane Snape (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.