From Smith to Schumpeter: A Theory of Take-off and Convergence to Sustained Growth
The growth literature on the Industrial Revolution has produced novel insights that have changed the way economists think about the issue. Most of the available models, however, focus on the household and do not put industrial activity at the center of the analysis. Consequently, they leave out much that should be a prominent part of the story. According to Mokyr (2005) for example, the challenge for theory is to explain not only the quantitative change in growth rates, but also the qualitative transformation of the economy as sustained growth fueled by technological change become one of its persistent and thus defining features. In this paper I propose a model of the qualitative transformation of the economy that assigns the starring role to industry. I introduce land in a Schumpeterian growth model to characterize the transition to sustained growth. A distinctive feature of the model I propose is that it yields a closed-form solution for the transition path. Consequently, it provides an analytically transparent characterization of the dates of the events that drive the economy's phase transitions. In particular, it provides a structural mapping from fundamentals to the key turning points — take-offs, inflection, etc. — that characterize the shape of the economy's path.
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