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Growth Theory and Industrial Revolutions in Britain and America

  • Knick Harley

    (University of Western Ontario)

Long run economic growth has again become a major focus of economic theory. A perception of technological change as an economic process with externalities has motivated the development of aggregate models that generate different steady state growth paths. Economic history has also long been interested in long-run economic growth. This paper engages in a dialog between growth theory and the historical literature on the industrial revolution in Britain and America’s surge to international economic leadership in the late nineteenth century. It concludes that economists’ recent thinking about the microeconomics of technological change has provided fruitful material for the economic historian of growth. Unfortunately, the models of endogenous growth, on the other hand, present too aggregated a view of the economy to prove helpful when confronted with the details of economic history.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2003/0332.pdf/
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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 03-32.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0332
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  1. N. F. R. Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002. "Precocious British Industrialization: A General Equilibrium Perspective," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 200213, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  2. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The resurgence of growth in the late 1990s: is information technology the story?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Gavin Wright, 1997. "Can a Nation Learn? American Technology as a Network Phenomenon," Working Papers 98001, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  4. Wright, Gavin, 1997. "Towards a More Historical Approach to Technological Change," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1560-66, September.
  5. Crafts, Nicholas, 2002. "The Solow Productivity Paradox in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 3142, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  7. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1991. "Integrated and Segmented Labor Markets: Thinking in Two Sectors," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 413-425, June.
  8. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, June.
  9. Wright, Gavin, 1990. "The Origins of American Industrial Success, 1879-1940," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 651-68, September.
  10. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1991. "Unemployment, employment contracts, and compensating wage differentials: michigan in the 1890s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 605-632, September.
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