Should-Read: 0.5%/year increase in ocean transport speeds in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. A bunch of this is capital deepening—figure it is better thought of as a measure of the growth rate of the efficiency of labor E than of total factor productivity A: Morgan Kelly and Cormac Ó Gráda: Speed under sail during the early Industrial Revolution: "The consensus among economic (but not maritime) historians that maritime technology was more or less stagnant for 300 years...

...until iron steamships appeared in the mid-19th century is largely based on indirect measures, such as changes in the cost of shipping freight or the length of voyages. This column instead looks directly at how the speed of ships in different winds improved over time. The speed of British ships rose by around half between 1750 and 1830 (albeit from a low base) thanks to innovations like the copper plating of hulls and the move from wooden to iron joints and bolts...

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