Reading: Michael Kremer (1993): "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990
Reading: Stephen Broadberry (2013): Accounting for the Great Divergence

Reading: Robert Allen (2011): Why the Industrial Revolution Was British: Commerce, Induced Invention and the Scientific Revolution

Robert Allen Urban Laborer Real Wages since 1325

Robert C. Allen (2011): “Why the Industrial Revolution Was British: Commerce, Induced Invention and the Scientific Revolution,” Economic History Review 64, pp. 357-384.

Britain's (and Holland's) Uniquely High Real Wages:

  • Why?
    • (Northwest) European marriage pattern?
    • Yeoman smallholder legacy of the Black Death?
    • Profits from British near-monopoly of international trade?
      • The British fiscal-military state
      • The (First) British Empire

Britain's Unique Coal:

  • a tradition and practice of using coal for heating since they had chopped down all the trees
  • at the surface
  • Very close to water transport
  • Very wet coal mines

Hence Allen's Conclusion:

  • Only in Britain in the 1700s would building the first generation of steam engines be:
    • useful (to pump water out of coal mines)
    • profitable
    • give rise to learning-by-doing and learning-by-researching
  • Hence the only road to the Industrial Revolution and its technologies—and then on to MEG—lies through 1700s Britain

Three Questions:

  1. What are the other places that Allen has in mind (since Hiero of Alexandria's aeropile in which building a first generation "steam engine" would have been possible as a marvel?

  2. Weren't there other roads to industrialization that involved technological change that economized on something other than labor--on energy, on capital, on other scarce inputs of one sort or another?

  3. So you economize on labor by inventing the spinning machine and the steam engine. Why does it go further? What are the forward inventive linkages here?



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