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The Transportation Revolution in Industrializing Britain: A Survey

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  • Dan Bogart

    (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)

Abstract

Between 1700 and 1870 Britain's transport sector improved dramatically. This paper surveys the literature on Britain’s transport revolution and examines its contribution to economic growth during the Industrial Revolution. It reviews the important infrastructural and technological developments, documents the evolution of transport markets, and examines the developmental effects of transport. The most striking finding is that freight charges decreased by 95 percent in real terms from 1700 to 1870 implying an annual TFP of more than 2 percent. The broader conclusion is that transport improvements were major factor in raising the standard of living in Britain and were as significant as other innovations. At the same time, Britain's history shows that many transport improvements were difficult to implement because they required financial innovation and involved taxation and vexing property rights issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Bogart, 2013. "The Transportation Revolution in Industrializing Britain: A Survey," Working Papers 121306, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:irv:wpaper:121306
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    File URL: https://www.economics.uci.edu/files/docs/workingpapers/2012-13/bogart-06.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Crafts, Nicholas, 2004. "Productivity Growth in the Industrial Revolution: A New Growth Accounting Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 521-535, June.
    2. Roger Fouquet & Peter J.G. Pearson, 2012. "The Long Run Demand for Lighting:Elasticities and Rebound Effects in Different Phases of Economic Development," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    3. Harley, C. Knick, 1988. "Ocean Freight Rates And Productivity, 1740-1913: The Primacy Of Mechanical Invention Reaffirmed," University of Western Ontario, Departmental Research Report Series 8802, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
    4. Simon Ville, 1986. "Total Factor Productivity in the English Shipping Industry: The North-east Coal Trade, 1700-1850′," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 39(3), pages 355-370, August.
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    6. Hausman, William J., 1985. "British Coal," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 712-715, September.
    7. Leunig, Timothy, 2006. "Time is Money: A Re-Assessment of the Passenger Social Savings from Victorian British Railways," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 635-673, September.
    8. Harley, C. Knick, 1988. "Ocean Freight Rates and Productivity, 1740–1913: The Primacy of Mechanical Invention Reaffirmed," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 851-876, December.
    9. Dan Bogart, 2011. "Did the Glorious Revolution contribute to the transport revolution? Evidence from investment in roads and rivers," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(4), pages 1073-1112, November.
    10. Dorian Gerhold, 1988. "The growth of the London carrying trade, 1681-1838," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 41(3), pages 392-410, August.
    11. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Did Turnpike Trusts Increase Transportation Investment in Eighteenth-Century England?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 439-468, June.
    12. Alex Trew, 2010. "Infrastructure Finance and Industrial Takeoff in England," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 985-1010, September.
    13. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Turnpike trusts and the transportation revolution in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 479-508, October.
    14. Dorian Gerhold, 1996. "Productivity change in road transport before and after turnpiking, 1690-1840," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(3), pages 491-515, August.
    15. A. J. ARNOLD & S. McCARTNEY, 2011. "‘Veritable gold mines before the arrival of railway competition’: but did dividends signal rates of return in the English canal industry?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(1), pages 214-236, February.
    16. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C. & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: A reappraisal of the evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 608-634, October.
    17. Casson, Mark, 2009. "The World's First Railway System: Enterprise, Competition, and Regulation on the Railway Network in Victorian Britain," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199213979, November.
    18. Buti,Marco & Deroose,Servaas & Gaspar,Vitor & Martins,João Nogueira (ed.), 2010. "The Euro," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9789279098420.
    19. Douglass C. North, 1968. "Sources of Productivity Change in Ocean Shipping, 1600-1850," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 953-953.
    20. Puffert, Douglas J., 2009. "Tracks across Continents, Paths through History," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226685090, January.
    21. Dan Bogart, 2012. "Profiting from Public Works: Financial Returns to Infrastructure and Investment Strategies during Britain's Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 121304, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    22. Gerard Turnbull, 1987. "Canals, coal and regional growth during the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(4), pages 537-560, November.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. High-speed rail in South Africa: too costly to consider
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2013-06-02 12:57:55

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    Cited by:

    1. Les Hannah, 2014. "Corporations in the US and Europe 1790-1860," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(6), pages 865-899, September.
    2. Hugh Goldsmith, 2014. "The Long-Run Evolution of Infrastructure Services," CESifo Working Paper Series 5073, CESifo.
    3. Alex Trew, 2016. "Endogenous Infrastructure Development and Spatial Takeoff," CDMA Working Paper Series 201601, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis, revised 17 Jan 2019.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transport Revolution; Industrial Revolution; Infrastructure; Railways; Canals; Turnpike; Shipping;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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