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Roots of the Industrial Revolution

Author

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  • Morgan Kelly
  • Joel Mokyr
  • Cormac Ó Gráda

Abstract

We analyze factors explaining the very different patterns of industrialization across the 42 counties of England between 1760 and 1830. Against the widespread view that high wages and cheap coal drove industrialization, we find that industrialization was restricted to low wage areas, while energy availability (coal or water) had little impact Instead we find that industrialization can largely be explained by two factors related to the human capability of the labour force. Instead of being composed of landless labourers, successful industrializers had large numbers of small farms, which are associated with better nutrition and height. Secondly, industrializing counties had a high density of population relative to agricultural land, indicating extensive rural industrial activity: counties that were already reliant on small scale industry, with the technical and entrepreneurial skills this generated, experienced the strongest industrial growth. Looking at 1830s France we find that the strongest predictor of industrialization again is quality of workers shown by height of the population, although market access and availability of water power were also important.

Suggested Citation

  • Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2015. "Roots of the Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 201524, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201524
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/7183
    File Function: First version, 2015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alessandro Nuvolari & Bart Verspagen & Nick von Tunzelmann, 2011. "The early diffusion of the steam engine in Britain, 1700–1800: a reappraisal," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), pages 291-321.
    2. T.Huw Edwards & Carlo Perroni, 2014. "Market Integration, Wage Concentration, and the Cost and Volume of Traded Machines," Discussion Paper Series 2014_08, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Sep 2014.
    3. Gregory Clark & Rowena Gray, 2012. "Geography is not Destiny. Geography, Institutions and Literacy in England, 1837-1863," Working Papers 0015, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    4. Roderick Floud & Kenneth Wachter & Annabel Gregory, 1990. "Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number flou90-1.
    5. Wrigley,E. A., 2010. "Energy and the English Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521766937, December.
    6. Wrigley,E. A., 2010. "Energy and the English Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521131858, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 6794, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2014. "Physiological Constraints and Comparative Economic Development," Discussion Papers 14-21, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Industrial revolution; Economic history; Economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • N - Economic History
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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