Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: a reappraisal of the evidence
This paper revisits the issue of the productivity performance of pre-World War I Britain’s railway system with an improved dataset and with modern time-series econometrics. We find a slowdown in TFP growth between 1850 and 1870, after which it stabilized at about 1.1%. An analysis of company-level productivity rejects the claims that there was a regulation-induced revival of productivity performance in the railway sector after 1900 but, on the other hand, it supports the claim that there was some managerial failure during the period.
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