Why did the industrial revolution take off in the UK rather than in China?

13 01 2013

Tim Harford is one of my favourite journalists. Every so often he puts a bit of economic history into his articles for the Financial Times. I can’t say that I complain. 

In a recent piece, he summarizes some of the recent literature on the Great Divergence and the debate about why the Industrial Revolution began in Western Europe rather than East Asia. Drawing on a book by Robert C. Allen, Harford suggests that the development of labour-saving technologies in England was driven by the fact that 18th century English were unusually high in global terms.

What  Harford says here won’t be news to anyone who follows the economic-historical literature. However, it is great to see good research is being popularized in this way. 





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