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French Revolution or Industrial Revolution? A Note on the Contrasting Experiences of England and France up to 1800

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  • Paul R. Sharp
  • Jacob L. Weisdorf

Abstract

At the end of the eighteenth century, England and France both underwent revolutions: France the French Revolution, England the industrial revolution. This note sheds new light on these contrasting experiences in the histories of England and France by looking at the evolution of real consumer prices in London and Paris in the centuries leading up to 1800. While in London building workers were facing low and stable consumer prices over the period, leaving plenty of scope for a demand-driven consumer revolution (in particular after 1650), their Parisian counterparts had to engage in a year-long grind to maintain a decent living, and often had to cut consumption to make ends meet. The exercise conducted in the present paper gives a quantitative and economic underpinning to the notion that the French revolution did not arise out of nowhere, but rather had its roots in centuries of hardship amongst working class people as they struggled to make a living.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul R. Sharp & Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2011. "French Revolution or Industrial Revolution? A Note on the Contrasting Experiences of England and France up to 1800," Working Papers 0012, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. R. C. Allen & J. L. Weisdorf, 2011. "Was there an ‘industrious revolution’ before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300–1830," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 715-729, August.
    2. Jack A. Goldstone, 2007. "Jack Goldstone on Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(3), pages 207-225, July.
    3. Clark, Gregory & Werf, Ysbrand Van Der, 1998. "Work in Progress? The Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 830-843, September.
    4. Hoffman, Philip T., 1991. "Land Rents and Agricultural Productivity: The Paris Basin, 1450-1789," Working Papers 752, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    5. Grantham, George, 1997. "The French cliometric revolution: A survey of cliometric contributions to French economic history," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(3), pages 353-405, December.
    6. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2006. "Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 319-361, December.
    7. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton University Press.
    8. Vries,Jan de, 2008. "The Industrious Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521895026, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Oliver Houpt & Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal, 2014. "Relative deprivation and labour conflict during Spain’s industrialization: the Bilbao estuary, 1914–1936," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 8(3), pages 335-369, September.
    2. Martin Uebele & Daniel Gallardo-Albarr�n, 2015. "Paving the way to modernity: Prussian roads and grain market integration in Westphalia, 1821-1855," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(1), pages 69-92, March.
    3. Ernesto López Losa & Santiago Piquero Zarauz, 2016. "Spanish real wages in the Northern-Western European mirror, 1500-1800. On the timings and magnitude of the Little Divergence in Europe," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1607, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer revolution; French revolution; great divergence; industrious revolution; industrial revolution; labour input;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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