Energy and machines. Energy capital ratios in Europe and Latin America. 1875–1970
Rick Hölsgens and
María del Mar Rubio-Varas
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Maria del Mar Rubio Varas
Scandinavian Economic History Review, 2019, vol. 67, issue 1, 31-46
The relationship between energy and capital is one of the most important aspects of modern economic growth. Machines need energy to produce all the goods we enjoy; energy would be far less useful for humankind in absence of machines. However, the great majority of the economic models do not take into account the elasticities of substitution (or complementaries) between these two main variables. Actually, energy is absent in many growth models and discussions on diverging economic development paths. We approach this relevant issue from a new perspective: energy and capital relations during 100 years. We use the latest estimations of capital stock (machinery and equipment) and energy consumption for Latin America and compare them with those of Western Europe. The energy–capital ratio (how much energy is used per unit of capital) could be a predictor of economic growth, thus providing stylised facts about the timing and causes of the different modernisation patterns of these regions and showing us some answers on the long-run relationship between energy consumption and capital accumulation.
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