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Accounting for breakout in Britain: The Industrial Revolution through a Malthusian lens

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  • Karol Jan Borowiecki
  • Alexander Tepper

Abstract

This paper develops a simple dynamic model to examine the breakout from a Malthusian economy to a modern growth regime. It identifies several factors that determine the fastest rate at which the population can grow without engendering declining living standards; this is termed maximum sustainable population growth. We then apply the framework to Britain and find a dramatic increase in sustainable population growth at the time of the Industrial Revolution, well before the beginning of modern levels of income growth. The main contributions to the British breakout were technological improvements and structural change away from agricultural production, while coal, capital, and trade played a minor role.

Suggested Citation

  • Karol Jan Borowiecki & Alexander Tepper, 2013. "Accounting for breakout in Britain: The Industrial Revolution through a Malthusian lens," Staff Reports 639, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:639
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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas, 2020. "Slow Real Wage Growth during the Industrial Revolution: Productivity Paradox or Pro-Rich Growth?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1268, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. José L. Martínez González, 2019. "High Wages or Wages For Energy? An Alternative View of The British Case (1645-1700)," Working Papers 0158, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Industrial Revolution; Malthusian dynamics; maximum sustainable population growth; development; demographics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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