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Lecture 7 - The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth A...

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The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: Lecture 7 James A. Robinson Harvard September 30, 2009 James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 1 / 29
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The Rise of Britain The most famous story in economic history is the British industrial revolution which started sometime around 1780. The traditional story heavily emphasizes a long series of innovations, including the steam engine and the railway with heavy emphasis on labor saving technology in cotton spinning and processing (Mokyr, 1990, Chapter 5). Main ideas are technological and organization progress such as the factory system. In 1500 it would have been hard to predict that all of this would start in Britain, but prior to 1780, particularly in the 17th century, Britain underwent a momentous series of social and institutional changes, such as the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, which seemed to have played a key role in establishing an institutional environment conducive to innovation and economic growth. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 2 / 29
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Drift Though in the last Lecture I proposed a model of °Rise and Decline± to describe the evolution of institutions and economies prior to the industrial revolution it is important to observe that there were important elements of °drift±. Population increased, also over time technological changes cumulated. Particularly important were things like the printing press which had a big impact on actual and potential human capital accumulation. All this meant that the base from which Britain could build in the 17th and 18th centuries was very di/erent from the base of earlier societies. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 3 / 29
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- 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 BC 400 BC 200 AD 1 200 400 600 800 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1650 1700 1750 1800 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950 1975 - 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 4,000 4,500 World Europe Africa The Americas China Population (in millions) Source: McEvedy and Jones
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Source: Cipolla, Carlo M. (1993) Before the Industrial Revolution , 3 rd Edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Co. p. 141.
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The Spread of the Printing Press after its’ invention in Mainz Source: Cipolla, Carlo M. (1993) Before the Industrial Revolution , 3rd Edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Co. p. 149.
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Sculpture in Berlin Celebrating Gutenberg as the father of printing Religion beats Marxism but poetry wins!
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Source: Baten, Joerg and Jan Luiten van Zanden (2007 ) “Book Production and the Onset of Modern Economic Growth” paper available at http://www.iisg.nl/staff/jvz.php
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Comparing with Measures of Literacy
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Institutional Change in Britain The Stuart dynasty ascended the throne in 1603 after Elizabeth I had died without children. James I (until 1625) and afterwards his son Charles I considered themselves absolutist monarchs but parliament contested their powers. Notable was the Statute of Monopolies in 1623 which attempted to control the ability of the king to create monopolies.
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