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British Economic Growth, 1270–1870


  • Date Published: January 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107676497

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About the Authors
  • This is a definitive new account of Britain's economic evolution from a backwater of Europe in 1270 to the hub of the global economy in 1870. A team of leading economic historians reconstruct Britain's national accounts for the first time right back into the thirteenth century to show what really happened quantitatively during the centuries leading up to the Industrial Revolution. Contrary to traditional views of the earlier period as one of Malthusian stagnation, they reveal how the transition to modern economic growth built on the earlier foundations of a persistent upward trend in GDP per capita which doubled between 1270 and 1700. Featuring comprehensive estimates of population, land use, agricultural production, industrial and service-sector production and GDP per capita, as well as analysis of their implications, this will be an essential reference for anyone interested in British economic history and the origins of modern economic growth more generally.

    • The first systematic quantitative account of British economic history reaching back to the thirteenth century, providing the most comprehensive framework yet for understanding long run economic development
    • Offers a detailed grounding of the quantitative material in the historical context, appealing to economic historians with a background and training in history as well as those with a training in economics
    • Appeals to a global audience by placing the British experience within an international comparative perspective
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book continues the path-breaking tradition initiated by Phyllis Deane and W. A. Cole [in] British Economic Growth, 1688-1959: Trends and Structure (1962). I can only congratulate Cambridge University Press for maintaining it and encouraging the publication of such a landmark in British and international economic history. My hope is that is will set the standards for research in other countries' economic history.' Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Universidad Carlos III

    'Our knowledge of Britain's growth history has just taken a quantum leap forward. The authors' well-documented fresh results force us to re-think the views of Malthus and Maddison on growth before 1800. Even the growth implications of the Black Death and the Industrial Revolution now look different. This team of authors sets a high standard of transparency, allowing others to replicate or revise their estimates.' Peter H. Lindert, University of California, Davis

    'This invaluable volume combines the compilation of masses of core data for estimating GDP and GDP per capita across six centuries with a host of reinterpretations that challenge and frequently demolish long-cherished views of the past. It is a massive achievement that is certain to form the starting-point for historical studies of Britain's long-run economic performance for many years to come.' John Hatcher, University of Cambridge

    'This is a path-breaking reconstruction and analysis of the British economy in the very long run, making full use of the available historical data from the Middle Ages onwards, which sets new standards for economic historical research into the 'wealth of nations' and sheds new light on the single most important question in the field: why did the Industrial Revolution happen in this part of the world?' Jan Luiten van Zanden, Utrecht University

    'British Economic Growth, 1270–1870 is a true landmark in economic history. Based on extensive research and a meticulous comparison of sources, it will transform our understanding of Britain's past and also reshape the debate over the 'great divergence' and the causes of the Industrial Revolution.' Philip T. Hoffman, California Institute of Technology

    'In this book, a team of leading UK economic historians reconstructs Britain's national accounts to show what happened quantitatively during the centuries leading up to the Industrial Revolution … Excellent bibliography. Summing up: recommended.' J. Murdock, Choice

    'British Economic Growth, 1270–1870 makes a big leap forward in our understanding of the long-run performance of what became the leading nineteenth-century economy and the workshop of the world. It does so by implementing a giant quantitative enterprise, one that will make it the standard data source for studying the evolution of the British economy for decades to come.' Journal of Economic Literature

    'This book contains a remarkable amount of advanced scholarship in British economic history, making sense of over six centuries of economic development. It is aimed squarely at the economic history community and its authors can look forward to its influence being felt in that discipline for a long time.' David Meredith, The English Historical Review

    'British Economic Growth is the collective work of a remarkable international group of economic historians … It is an attempt to reconstruct England's and Britain's national income accounts from 1270 to 1870 and to reveal the origins of Britain's modern economic growth. … a remarkable achievement, which transforms our understanding of Britain's rise to economic supremacy. … This landmark in British and international economic history is recommended to both experts and all those who are interested in the interrelationships between history and economic development.' György Borus, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107676497
    • length: 502 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.84kg
    • contains: 46 b/w illus. 96 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Measuring Economic Growth
    Section 1. Population
    Part II. Analysing Economic Growth
    Section 1. Real-Wage-Rates and GDP Per Head.

  • Resources for

    British Economic Growth, 1270–1870

    Stephen Broadberry, Bruce M. S. Campbell, Alexander Klein, Mark Overton, Bas van Leeuwen

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  • Authors

    Stephen Broadberry, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Stephen Broadberry is Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Research Theme Leader at CAGE and Director of the Economic History Programme at CEPR. He has also taught at the Universities of Warwick, Oxford and Cardiff and held visiting positions at the University of British Columbia, the University of California, Berkeley, Humboldt University, Berlin, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo and the University of Southern Denmark. His research interests include the development of the world economy from 1000 AD to the present; historical national accounts for Britain since 1086; the Great Divergence of productivity and living standards between Europe and Asia; sectoral aspects of comparative growth and productivity performance during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; productivity in services; wars and economic performance. He is currently Editor of the Economic History Review, and has previously been Editor of the European Review of Economic History. He has been President of the European Historical Economics Society and is currently a Trustee of the Economic History Association and the Asian Historical Economics Society, and an Executive Committee Member of the Economic History Society. His books include The British Economy between the Wars: A Macroeconomic Survey (1986); The Productivity Race: British Manufacturing in International Perspective, 1850–1990 (Cambridge, 1997); Market Services and the Productivity Race, 1850–2000: British Performance in International Perspective (Cambridge, 2006) and the 2-volume Cambridge Economic History of Europe, edited with Kevin O'Rourke (Cambridge, 2010).

    Bruce M. S. Campbell, Queen's University Belfast
    Bruce Campbell is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Economic History at Queen's University, Belfast. He belongs to the Academia Europaea, Academy of Social Sciences, British Academy, Royal Historical Society and Royal Irish Academy, and is a former fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. A graduate of the Universities of Liverpool and Cambridge, his teaching at Queen's from 1973 to 2010 embraced the economic and environmental history of Britain and Ireland over the last millennium. He is the author of English Seigniorial Agriculture 1250–1450 (2000), co-author of A Medieval Capital and Its Grain Supply: Agrarian Production and Its Distribution in the London Region c.1300 (1993), and England on the Eve of the Black Death: An Atlas of Lay Lordship, Land, and Wealth, 1300–49 (2006), and author of three collections of essays: The Medieval Antecedents of English Agricultural Progress (2007), Field Systems and Farming Systems in Late Medieval England (2008), and Land and People in Late Medieval England (2009). His research harnesses the wealth of detailed statistical information contained in England's extensive medieval archives to shed systematic light on the country's economic development when it was still comparatively poor, under-developed and prone to subsistence crises and famine. He is currently completing the manuscript of his 2013 Ellen McArthur Lectures for publication by Cambridge.

    Alexander Klein, University of Kent, Canterbury
    Alexander Klein is an Assistant Professor at the School of Economics, University of Kent. He taught at the University of Warwick, Centre for Economic Research and Graduate Education in Prague, and the London School of Economics. He also held a position at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and is a Research Associate of CAGE, University of Warwick. His research interests include long-run economic growth; divergence of living standards between Western and Eastern Europe; the second serfdom in Eastern Europe; economic geography; agglomeration economics; long-run comparative labour productivity of European countries; and historical national accounts. He has published in the Economic History Review, Explorations in Economic History, the Journal of Economic Geography, Scandinavian Economic History Review, and Research in Economic History.

    Mark Overton, University of Exeter
    Mark Overton is Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Exeter. Before moving to Exeter he taught in the Geography Departments of the Universities of Cambridge and Newcastle, and held a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. His research interests are in the agrarian history of England from the middle ages to the present day and in the economy and society in early modern England. He is currently President of the British Agricultural History Society and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Economic History Society. He was also Vice-Chair of the Training and Skills Committee of the Economic and Social Research Council. His books include Agricultural Revolution in England: The Transformation of the Agrarian Economy 1500–1850 (Cambridge, 1996); Farming to Halves: The Hidden History of Sharefarming in England from Medieval to Modern Times (2008); and Production and Consumption in English Households, 1600–1750 (2004). He also co-edited Land, Labour and Livestock: Historical Studies in European Agricultural Productivity (1991) with Bruce Campbell.

    Bas van Leeuwen, Utrecht University
    Bas van Leeuwen is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Economic History at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He has held similar positions at Warwick University and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. His main field of interest includes quantitative economic development in Europe and Asia between c.500 BC and the present. He has also been part of the, now finalized, project on historical national accounts of The Netherlands. Currently he is participating in the historical national accounts of China as well as being the editor of the Quantitative History of China series which will make historical data on China available to the wider audience.

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