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Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: a reappraisal of the evidence

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  • Crafts, Nicholas
  • Mills, Terence C.
  • Mulatu, Abay

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C. & Mulatu, Abay, 2005. "Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: a reappraisal of the evidence," Economic History Working Papers 22553, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22553
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22553/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2004. "Was 19th century British growth steam-powered?: the climacteric revisited," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 156-171, April.
    2. Mulatu, Abay & Crafts, Nicholas, 2005. "Efficiency among private railway companies in a weakly regulated system: the case of Britain's railways in 1893-1912," Economic History Working Papers 22552, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Mitchell, B. R., 1964. "The Coming of the Railway and United Kingdom Economic Growth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 315-336, September.
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    6. E. H. Phelps Brown & S. J. Handfield-Jones, 1952. "THE CLIMACTERIC OF THE 1890's: A STUDY IN THE EXPANDING ECONOMY," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 266-307.
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    11. Stephen Broadberry & Nicholas Crafts, 2003. "UK productivity performance from 1950 to 1979: a restatement of the Broadberry-Crafts view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(4), pages 718-735, November.
    12. Foreman-Peck, James & Millward, Robert, 1994. "Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820-1990," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198203599.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bogart, Dan, 2010. "A global perspective on railway inefficiency and the rise of state ownership, 1880-1912," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 158-178, April.
    2. Vincent Bignon & Rui Esteves & Alfonso Herranz-Loncán, 2015. "Big push or big grab? Railways, government activism, and export growth in Latin America, 1865–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1277-1305, November.
    3. Mulatu, Abay & Crafts, Nicholas, 2005. "Efficiency among private railway companies in a weakly regulated system: the case of Britain's railways in 1893-1912," Economic History Working Papers 22552, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    4. James Foreman-Peck & Leslie Hannah, 2012. "Some Consequences of the Early Twentieth Century Divorce of Ownership from Control," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-864, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    5. Brian Mitchell & David Chambers & Nick Crafts, 2011. "How good was the profitability of British railways, 1870–1912?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 798-831, August.
    6. repec:eee:soceps:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:26-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bogart, Dan & Chaudhary, Latika, 2015. "Off the rails: Is state ownership bad for productivity?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 997-1013.
    8. Nicholas Crafts & Timothy Leunig & Abay Mulatu, 2011. "Corrigendum: Were British railway companies well managed in the early twentieth century?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(1), pages 351-356, February.
    9. Nicholas Crafts & Timothy Leunig & Abay Mulatu, 2008. "Were British railway companies well managed in the early twentieth century? -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(4), pages 842-866, November.
    10. Crafts, Nicholas & Leunig, Tim & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Were British railway companies well-managed in the early twentieth century?," Economic History Working Papers 22549, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    11. Dan Bogart, 2013. "The Transportation Revolution in Industrializing Britain: A Survey," Working Papers 121306, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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