EH 101 Essay- Britain v US

EH 101 Essay- Britain v US - Do studies of individual...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Do studies of individual industries suggest that Britain was lagging behind the U.S before 1914? Propelled into economic hegemony and power by the Industrial Revolution that occurred in the beginning of the 19th century, Britain would maintain its hold over the global economy until the rise of effective foreign competition in the 1860s, predominantly in the form of the United States. This new industrial rival would emerge to successfully confront all aspects of British industry, increasingly not only abroad but also at home. Indeed, Britain's share of the world market in manufactures would fall from 41.4% in the early 1880s to 27% in 1913, with Britain's growth rate, manufacturing output, share of total world exports, and GDP per capita all declining relative to the U.S during this period as well (McCloskey 1981: 175). Accustomed to looking upon itself as the "Workshop of the world", Britain would see many other ominous and unwelcome signs of change in in the decades leading up to World War I. While an examination of industries on an individual basis does reveal some superior aspects of the British industrial sector in the pre-WWI era, I contend that on a whole this analysis only confirms the notion that Britain lagged behind the United States. In addition, I offer several theories to account for the relative decline of Britain and rise of the U.S in these specific industries. By 1870, Britain had assumed a commanding technological and competitive lead in the realm of world iron and steel production. In this year, the British share of world pig iron tonnage output hovered around 50%, 37% for wrought iron, and 43% of world tonnage output for steel. Britain imported only 8% of home consumption for iron and steel (Elbaum & Lazonick 1986: 51-54). Britain, however, would experience major shifts in its share of world output as competition from the U.S and others became prevalent, eventually ceding its dominance to its North American rival. In 1913, the United States produced over 40% of the world's output of both iron and steel, compared with Britain's 10% (E & L 1986: 51). Additionally, British imports for home consumption would rise to approximately 29% for iron and steel (Pollard 1989: 27). Britain would be overtaken by the USA in terms of tonnage of steel produced in 1886 and in terms of tonnage per head of population in 1899 (Pollard 1989: 29). Thus, Britain's iron and steel industry had been decisively surpassed by the U.S in the decades leading up to the First World War. To some extent, the diminution of British iron and steel industry on the world markets was to be expected given that this period (1870-1913) coincided with the zenith of the U.S' process of industrialization. The increase in railway construction as a result of heavy industrialization would call for a great deal more production of iron and steel in the U.S. Yet it became increasingly apparent by 1913 that the decline in the UK's share of this industry was a result of its lagging behind in technological innovation. While the British had invented or
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 09/04/2010 for the course GOVT 100 taught by Professor Peterenns during the Spring '08 term at Cornell.

Page1 / 4

EH 101 Essay- Britain v US - Do studies of individual...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online