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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: https://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. 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.
  2. Obstfeld, Maurice & Taylor, Alan M., 2003. "Sovereign Risk, Credibility and the Gold Standard: 1870-1913 versus 1925-31," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt6f15n0h0, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. 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.
  4. David S. Jacks & Christopher M. Meissner & Dennis Novy, 2009. "Trade Booms, Trade Busts, and Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 15267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gregory Clark & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor, 2008. "Made in America? The New World, the Old, and the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 523-28, May.
  6. Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1994. "Convergence in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 4711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hatton, Timothy J., 2003. "Emigration from the UK, 1870-1913 and 1950-1998," IZA Discussion Papers 830, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Prantl, Susanne & Howitt, Peter & Griffith, Rachel & Blundell, Richard & Aghion, Philippe, 2004. "Entry and Productivity Growth: Evidence From Microlevel Panel Data," Scholarly Articles 4481510, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. William Hynes, David S Jacks and Kevin H. O’Rourke, 2009. "Commodity Market Disintegration in the Interwar Period," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp285, IIIS.
  10. 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.
  11. Offer, Avner, 1991. "The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198202790, May.
  12. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2005. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671798.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Alan M. Taylor, 2002. "A Century of Current Account Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 8927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. William Goetzmann & Andrey Ukhov, 2005. "British Investment Overseas 1870-1913: A Modern Portfolio Theory Approach," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm445, Yale School of Management.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Taylor, A.M., 1991. "Capital Flows to the New World as an Intergenerational Transfer," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1579, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  23. 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.
  24. O'Rourke, K, 1997. "The European Grain Invasion 1870-1913," Papers 97/02, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  25. KrisJames Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(533), pages 1805-1834, November.
  26. Kitson,Michael & Solomou,Solomos, 1990. "Protectionism and Economic Revival," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521382670.
  27. 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.
  28. 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, October.
  29. Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2011. "Why the EU Won," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp361, IIIS.
  30. 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.
  31. Kris James Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," NBER Working Papers 13765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
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