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Puncturing the Malthus delusion: structural change in the British economy before the industrial revolution, 1500-1800

Patrick Wallis, Justin Colson and David Chilosi ()

Economic History Working Papers from London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History

Abstract: Accounts of structural change in the pre-modern British economy vary substantially. We present the first time series of male labour sectoral shares before 1800, using a large sample of probate and apprenticeship data to produce national and county-level estimates. England experienced a rapid decline in the agricultural share between the early seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, associated with rising agricultural and especially industrial productivity; Wales saw only limited changes. Our results provide further evidence of early structural change, highlighting the significance of the mid-seventeenth century as a turning point in English economic development.

Keywords: Labour force; sectoral distribution; labour productivity; Britain; Wales (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J21 N13 N33 O14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eff, nep-evo, nep-gro, nep-his, nep-hpe and nep-net
Date: 2016-06
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