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Coal and the European Industrial Revolution

Alan Fernihough and Kevin O'Rourke ()

The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series from IIIS

Abstract: We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal exhibits a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample.

Keywords: Height; Stature Coal; Historical Population; Geography (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N13 N53 O13 O14 J10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo and nep-his
Date: 2014-01
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Working Paper: Coal and the European Industrial Revolution (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Coal and the European Industrial Revolution (2014) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp439

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