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From Empire to Europe: Britain in the World Economy

  • Kevin H. O’Rourke

    (All Souls College, Oxford)

This chapter provides a brief introduction to the history of Britain’s engagement with the international economy between 1870 and 2010. It begins by discussing long run trends in the integration of the British economy with the rest of the world over time. Economic historians are typically interested in four types of flows between economies: trade in goods and services; flows of capital; migration flows; and flows of ideas and technology. The last flow is probably the most important one for countries hoping to catch up to the international technological frontier. While this was not the right way to characterise the British economy in 1870, it probably was at various points after World War II. Unfortunately, such flows are also the most difficult to quantify, and so I follow the bulk of the literature in concentrating on trade, capital flows and migration.

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Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _106.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 04 Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_106
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. Clark, Gregory & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Taylor, Alan M., 2008. "Made in America? The New World, the Old, and the Industrial Revolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 6856, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2004. "Wealth bias in the first global capital market boom, 1870-1913," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 304-337, 04.
  3. Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1994. "Capital Flows to the New World as an Intergenerational Transfer," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 348-71, April.
  4. Philippe Aghion & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt & Susanne Prantl, 2004. "Entry and Productivity Growth: Evidence from Microlevel Panel Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 265-276, 04/05.
  5. Offer, Avner, 1991. "The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198202790, March.
  6. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "The European Grain Invasion, 1870–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(04), pages 775-801, December.
  7. Richard A. Easterlin, 1968. "Population, Labor Force, and Long Swings in Economic Growth: The American Experience," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number east68-1, December.
  8. Alexander Hijzen & Holger Görg & Robert C. Hine, 2004. "International Outsourcing and the Skill Structure of Labour Demand in the United Kingdom," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 437, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 2010. "The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(04), pages 871-897, December.
  10. Kris James Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," NBER Working Papers 13765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor & ), 2003. "Sovereign Risk, Credibility and the Gold Standard: 1870-1913 versus 1925-31," International Trade 0303001, EconWPA.
  12. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp205, IIIS.
  13. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2008. "Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582775, June.
  14. Jacks, David S; Meissner, Christopher; Novy, Dennis, 2010. "Trade Booms, Trade Busts and Trade Costs," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 33, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  15. Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2011. "Why the EU Won," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp361, IIIS.
  16. James Foreman-Peck, 1981. "The British Tariff and Industrial Protection in the 1930s: An A Iternative Model," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 34(1), pages 132-139, 02.
  17. Jacks, David S., 2005. "Intra- and international commodity market integration in the Atlantic economy, 1800-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 381-413, July.
  18. Sibylle H. Lehmann & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2011. "The Structure of Protection and Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 606-616, May.
  19. William N. Goetzmann & Andrey D. Ukhov, 2006. "British Investment Overseas 1870-1913: A Modern Portfolio Theory Approach," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 10(2), pages 261-300.
  20. O'Rourke, Kevin & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1994. "Late Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Factor-Price Convergence: Were Heckscher and Ohlin Right?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 892-916, December.
  21. Giovanni Federico & Karl Gunnar Persson, . "Market Integration and Convergence in the World Wheat Market, 1800-2000," Discussion Papers 06-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  22. Eichengreen, Barry J., 1981. "A dynamic model of tariffs, output and employment under flexible exchange rates," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 341-359, August.
  23. Forrest Capie, 1991. "Effective protection and economic recovery in Britain, 1932-1937," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(2), pages 339-342, 05.
  24. Michael Kitson & Solomos Solomou & Martin Weale, 1991. "Effective protection and economic recovery in the United Kingdom during the 1930s," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 44(2), pages 328-338, 05.
  25. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Introduction to Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium
    [Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  26. KrisJames Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(533), pages 1805-1834, November.
  27. Hatton, Timothy J., 2003. "Emigration from the UK, 1870-1913 and 1950-1998," IZA Discussion Papers 830, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. O'Rourke, Kevin, 1991. "Burn Everything British but their Coal: the Anglo-Irish Economic War of the 1930s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(02), pages 357-366, June.
  29. Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1994. "Convergence in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 4711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. William Hynes & David S. Jacks & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2009. "Commodity Market Disintegration in the Interwar Period," NBER Working Papers 14767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521071789 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. 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.
  33. Ferguson, Niall & Schularick, Moritz, 2006. "The Empire Effect: The Determinants of Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 283-312, June.
  34. Taylor, Alan M., 2002. "A century of current account dynamics," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 725-748, November.
  35. Knick Harley, C., 1980. "Transportation, the world wheat trade, and the Kuznets Cycle, 1850-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 218-250, July.
  36. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Preface to Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium
    [Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  37. Cameron, Gavin & Proudman, James & Redding, Stephen, 2005. "Technological convergence, R&D, trade and productivity growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 775-807, April.
  38. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1962. "The Long Swing: Comparisons and Interactions Between British and American Balance of Payments, 1820–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(01), pages 21-46, March.
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