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Coal and the European Industrial Revolution

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  • Fernihough, Alan
  • O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj

Abstract

We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal had a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernihough, Alan & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2014. "Coal and the European Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 9819, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9819
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    Cited by:

    1. Moreno-Cruz, Juan & Taylor, M. Scott, 2017. "An energy-centric theory of agglomeration," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 153-172.
    2. Blum, Matthias & Strebel, Matthias, 2016. "Max Weber and the First World War: Protestant and Catholic living standards in Germany, 1915–1919," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 699-719, September.
    3. Rafael González-Val, 2016. "Historical urban growth in Europe (1300–1800)," Working Papers 2016/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    4. David Cuberes & Rafael González-Val, 2017. "The effect of the Spanish Reconquest on Iberian cities," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 58(3), pages 375-416, May.
    5. M. Scott Taylor & Moreno, "undated". "A Spatial Approach to Energy Economics: Theory, Measurement and Empirics," Working Papers 2014-67, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 29 Sep 2014.
    6. Rémi BAZILLIER & Victoire GIRARD, 2017. "The gold digger and the machine. Evidence on the distributive effect of the artisanal and industrial gold rushes in Burkina Faso," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2545, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    7. Réka Juhász, 2014. "Temporary Protection and Technology Adoption: Evidence from the Napoleonic Blockade," CEP Discussion Papers dp1322, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Francesco Cinnirella & Oded Galor & Boris Gershman & Erik Hornung, 2017. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Emergence of Labor Emancipation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6423, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Kersting, Felix, 2017. "Coal and Blood: Industrialization and the Rise of Nationalism in Prussia before 1914," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 52, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    10. Thomas Sauer & Stephanie Barnebeck & Yannick Kalff & Judith Schicklinski, 2015. "The Role of Cities in the Socio-Ecological Transition of Europe (ROCSET)," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 93, WWWforEurope.
    11. 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.
    12. Bailey, Roy E. & Hatton, Timothy J. & Inwood, Kris, 2016. "Atmospheric Pollution and Child Health in Late Nineteenth Century Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 10428, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Pleijt, Alexandra M. de & Nuvolari, Alessandro & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2016. "Human Capital Formation during the First Industrial Revolution: Evidence from the Use of Steam Engines," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 294, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    14. W. Walker Hanlon, 2016. "Coal Smoke and the Costs of the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 22921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Juhász, Réka, 2014. "Temporary protection and technology adoption: evidence from the Napoleonic blockade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60697, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9141-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. 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.
    18. Torben Dall Schmidt & Peter Sandholt Jensen & Amber Naz, 2014. "New crops, local soils and urbanization: Clover, potatoes and the growth of Danish market towns,1672-1901," Working Papers 0065, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    19. Franziska Holz & Clemens Haftendorn & Roman Mendelevitch & Christian von Hirschhausen, 2016. "A Model of the International Steam Coal Market (COALMOD-World)," Data Documentation 85, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    20. Keller, Wolfgang & Shiue, Carol H, 2016. "Market Integration as a Mechanism of Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 11627, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6797, CESifo Group Munich.
    22. Fernando M. Aragon & Juan Pablo Rud & Gerhard Toews, 2015. "Mining closure, gender and employment reallocations: the case of UK coal mines," Discussion Papers dp15-09, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    23. Fernando M Aragon & Pablo Rud & Gerhard Toews, 2015. "Mining Closure, Gender and Employment Reallocations: in the case of UK coal mines," OxCarre Working Papers 161, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Coal; Geography; Historical Population; Industrial Revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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