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Why Was British Growth So Slow During the Industrial Revolution?

Jeffrey G. Williamson

The Journal of Economic History, 1984, vol. 44, issue 3, 687-712

Abstract: Although it has been labeled the “First Industrial Revolution,†British growth and industrialization was slow between the 1760s and the 1820s. The explanation seems to lie with low capital formation shares in national income, low rates of accumulation, and thus little change in the capital-labor ratio. What accounts for the modest investment rates? Lack of thrift? Weak investment demand? This paper argues that the answer is to be found in the enormous debt issues used, to finance the French Wars.

Date: 1984
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