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Industrialization: Why Britain Got There First

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  • Nicholas Crafts

    (The University of Warwick)

Abstract

This paper provides an introductory overview of the British Industrial Revolution. The dimensions of growth are discussed as well as notable recent explanations for Britain’s primacy. Obstacles to faster growth are considered as well as advantages that were conducive to stronger TFP growth. In this context, reasons for the long delay before steam power had any significant impact on productivity are highlighted. Some implications of Britain’s early start to modern economic growth for subsequent economic performance are noted. The paper concludes that precocious British industrialization is much easier to explain than the timing of the acceleration of technological progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Crafts, 2014. "Industrialization: Why Britain Got There First," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 214, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:214
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    File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/214-2014_crafts.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicholas Crafts, 2004. "Steam as a general purpose technology: A growth accounting perspective," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 338-351, April.
    2. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting for the great divergence," Economic History Working Papers 54573, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas & Wolf, Nikolaus, 2014. "The Location of the UK Cotton Textiles Industry in 1838: A Quantitative Analysis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(04), pages 1103-1139, December.
    4. Stephen Broadberry & Bishnupriya Gupta, 2006. "The early modern great divergence: wages, prices and economic development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(1), pages 2-31, February.
    5. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, December.
    6. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    7. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "Explaining the first Industrial Revolution: two views," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(01), pages 153-168, April.
    8. Adams, Donald R., 1970. "Some Evidence on English and American Wage Rates, 1790–1830," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(03), pages 499-520, September.
    9. Broadberry, Stephen & Campbell, Bruce M.S. & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 16-27.
    10. Nicholas Crafts, 1998. "Forging Ahead and Falling Behind: The Rise and Relative Decline of the First Industrial Nation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 193-210, Spring.
    11. Crafts, Nicholas, 2014. "Productivity Growth during the British Industrial Revolution: Revisionism Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 204, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    12. Crafts, N. F. R., 1995. "Exogenous or Endogenous Growth? The Industrial Revolution Reconsidered," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(04), pages 745-772, December.
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    Keywords

    industrialization; invention; industrial revolution; TFP growth;

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