The Industrial Revolution in Historical Context
When we look at human history in a long-term perspective, there appear to be 2 major break
points in growth of population, technology and economics growth
Agricultural (Neolithic) Revolution (c. 10,000 BC
The British Standard of Living
(1750 - 1850)
2 related questions:
1. What happened to the absolute standard of living from 1750 to 1850
( or in some part of this period)?
2. What happened to the relative standard of living
1750 and 1850?
Demand and Technology
One of the perpetual questions in economics is what influences
technology or what leads to technological progress. In a way, this is
question of whether progress is exogenous to the market (i.e. not
explained by market factors) or wh
Industrialization The 2nd Phase
The historians 19th Century runs from 1814 (end of the
Napoleonic Wars) to 1914 (the beginning of World War I).
In this period, industrialization spread:
1. from its original base in textiles, iron and a few other
Other accomplishments of the British government included:
A. Legal Environment of Business
Mercantilism tended to regulate business including:
Restrictions on entry into trades or businesses
Mandatory quality standards
The Government & the British Economy
The government is not an autonomous force
~ the govt does not act independently of the economic environment
and structure, but interacts with it
~ govt reflects, although imperfectly, the social and economic
Did Britain Fail?
It is odd that the literature on Britain in the 18th century stresses its
advantages over competing country, but the literature on Britain
from 1870 to 1914 tends to focus on its failings compared to
The first part of this period
The issue of the role of entrepreneurship in Britain is still a long way
from being solved. Why?
The issue of whether there is something to explain i.e.
whether Britain actually failed in some sense is still debated
If we accept that there is someth
Section A: 20 marks. Answer any two (2) of the following by explaining what the term means
and why it is significant to the economics development of Britain.
Take-off into sustained growth
so has argued that the famous inventions of the British Industrial Revolution were
responses to Britains unique economic and then develop anywhere else.
Another important question is: why didnt the Industrial Revolution Peter out after 1815?
Wilfrid Laurier University
Economic Development of Europe
Instructor: Dr. Peter Sinclair
Robt C. Allen, The British Industrial Re
Economic History Review,
Rehabilitating the industrial
B y MAXINE BERG and PAT HUDSON
revolution in England
The historiography of the industrial social development.2 Thehas moved
away from viewing the late eighteenth and
Ch 8 Cotton
Unlike the steam engine, which could be described as a general purpose technology,
the innovations in cotton were quite specific but had a much larger immediate impact on
the economy. By 1830, cotton accounted for 425,000 jobs about 16% of the
Ch 7 The Steam Engine
Since the beginning of time, most motive power had come from muscles human or
animal. In addition, power had come from wind and water. The steam engine was the
next step forward although it took a considerable length of time until it
Ch. 9 - Coke Smelting
The third macro-invention was the substitution of coal (coke) for charcoal in the smelting
of iron. In the 1850s this spread to the United States, France, Belgium and Germany
but it gave Britain an enormous advantage in the earlier p
Notes on Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy
One of the clearest facts is that 18th C Britain was a high-wage economy compared to
the rest of Europe let alone Asia. This goes back to before 1700 and was well known to
Notes on Allen
why did the Industrial Revolution happen in Britain in the 18th C?
Theories of development say that technological invention is the main proximate cause of growth
and this was true in Britain
Main inventions were:
Economic Growth & the Industrial Revolution
Theories of economic growth go back into the 18 th C when observers in Western Europe began to
notice that some countries were richer than others. They sought an explanation for these
Almost by definition, pre-industrial economies are based on
agriculture. The key point with agriculture is the idea of a surplus.
For grain production, seeds are both an input into the system
both to feed the labour and as an in
The Agricultural Revolution?
For there to be a major shift from agriculture to industry and services, there must
be an increase in efficiency in agriculture (or the ability to import the needed
Somewhat surprisingly, Agriculture is
The Industrial Revolution: A Macro Approach
Based on attempts to estimate national income statistics
Where do modem national income stats come from?
Mandatory reporting of production to governments
Surveys by government
Energy in the IR Coal
In the earlier studies of the IR coal was always accorded a central role. The medieval
economy was propelled by animal and human power, wind and water. The main
sources of thermal power were wood and charcoal. Coal was used for
Ch 6 - Why was the IR British?
Part I explained the high wage/cheap energy environment from which the IR emerged.
Part II will attempt to show why and how that environment caused the IR.
What was the IR.? It is essentially technological innovation.
In England, unlike every other country that later industrialized, the
main transportation systems like canals, turnpikes and eventually
railways were built almost entirely by private enterprise.
Improvements in transportation had a number o
The period from 1760 1790 was often designated as the Industrial
Revolution because of the series of technological breakthroughs that
occurred. This doesnt change even if we no longer believe that the entire
economy (total GNP) grew
Ch. 5 - Why Britain Succeeded?
He is using a multi-equation model to test and explain the relationships
between the various variable.
The four variables to be explained (dependent var) are:
1. Real wage
2. Urbanization rate
3. Agricultural total factor pr
Trade and Commerce before 1750
Allen puts a great emphasis on the role of trade before the IR as one of the instigators
of the changes. It has also been argued that trade was directly important in the IR itself.
We will start with trade before 1750.
My analysis is based on two distinctions. The first is
between macro inventions and micro inventions.
The second distinction concerns the nature of
invention itself, namely, Edisons observation that
invention was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.