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March 05, 2008


K. Powers

Although the assertion that the Industrial Revolution was not so revolutionary is a seductively confrontational hypothesis, it seems that some scholars may have taken measurements supporting this argument too far out of context. For instance, Nicholas Crafts began in the 1980s to argue that the Industrial Revolution was limited to textiles, iron, and transportation, but that services and other manufacturers were in a technological rut from 1800-1850. Crafts also revised estimates for English productivity growth from 1780-1860 to reflect his hypothesis that “nonmodernized” industries contributed very little; such industries’ contributions decreased from McCloskey’s estimate of 0.55 percent per annum to 0.07 percent (Temin 65-66). Although economic historians, according to Temin, generally agree that productivity advances during the Industrial Revolution were experienced unequally across and within sectors, there is not enough evidence to confirm Crafts’ assertion that Britain lacked an overall comparative advantage in manufacturing (Temin 80). Temin argues that, if Britain’s other manufacturing subsectors were indeed technologically backward, they would not have a comparative advantage in exporting to Europe and other regions. However, Temin uses Parliamentary records and a Ricardian model of international trade to argue that not only did Britain feature a varied and thriving list of exported ‘other manufactures’ during the apparent Industrial Revolution, but that overall technical change in the other manufactures subsector would be a likely reason that so many products within the subsector would be exported (72, 74-78).

Temin also notes that, if British manufactures experienced an increase in productivity, their prices should decrease relative to imports; this was indeed the case, even for ‘other manufactures’ (79). Intuitively, Temin’s arguments appeal to me, though I admit I haven’t studied trade in great detail. Temin’s research into other manufactures also causes me to doubt the general equilibrium model put forth by Harley, a revisionist, who assumed that these goods were not traded at all, though many of the goods were actually exported to western Europe (72, 78).

Perhaps my interpretation is misguided, but my reading of Crafts’ The Solow Productivity Paradox actually caused me to lean closer to the views of Berg and Hudson. In particular, Crafts notes a theme of early cliometrics that technological improvements, no matter how great, only have small impacts on growth (8). However, Crafts goes on to say that, for general purpose technologies, large impacts on growth will not be observed immediately due to the small nascent types of capital relative to the overall economy, an argument confirmed by Berg and Hudson (Crafts 14-15, Berg and Hudson 34). However, if Temin’s argument that technological change was widespread is correct, and a decent amount of technological change from 1780-1860 was general, then revisionists like Williamson should not blame lack of technological change for their perceived lackluster increases in Britain’s growth before the 1820s (Williamson 688).

William does make a good point, however, that the 36 years Britain spent fighting war between 1760 and 1820 probably crowded out civilian capital accumulation and decreased after-tax real incomes (689). The war debt in Britain was large, and temporary taxes put in place in the late 1790s to finance the war were removed shortly after the war ended (696, 700). Additionally, his assertion that war’s interruption of international trade could have been responsible for the relative increase of import prices Temin mentions (689). On the other hand, I’m not thoroughly convinced that using industrializations occurring in the 1970s as a baseline for comparison with Britain’s Industrial Revolution is as useful as Williamson believes it is (689). At worst, it reminds me of trying to compare the amount of growth occurring at the advent of agriculture to the amount of growth resulting from the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century.

Although Williamson’s arguments probably merit a downward revision of the economic significance attached to the Industrial Revolution, Berg and Hudson make a legitimate point that the revisionists place emphasis on “saving and capital formation at the expensive of science, economic organization, new products and processes, market creativity, skills, dexterity, the knacks and work processes of manufacture, and other aspects of economic life which may be innovative but have no place in the accounting categories” (34). Along with Berg and Hudson, I’m confident that the lack of employment information for women and children distorts our view of the period, especially given that rates of child labor during the British Industrial Revolution were “higher than the contemporary rates in all regions of the world with the sole exception of middle Africa” (Basu and Pham, “The Economics of Child Labor,” AER 1998: 414). Hudson and Berg’s arguments about new class consciousnesses and identities that vary by region are also reasonable hypotheses that the Industrial Revolution was composed of more than economic change. Overall, I do agree with Hudson and Berg’s assertion that more recent literature places a disproportionately large emphasis on the economic aspects on the Industrial Revolution, though there does seem to be truth behind these scholars’ downward revision of economic measurements for the period.

Mitchell Hoffman

I generally agree with Berg and Hudson, though this may be because all of the readings, except the article by Crafts, are sympathetic to their view.
The most interesting point in Berg and Hudson is that estimates in TFP growth during the Industrial Revolution (including decompositions of TFP growth into that from industrializing industries like cloth and iron) may be misleading. TFP is usually estimated as the residual from an aggregate production function, that is, the growth rate in output minus the growth rates in capital and labor (though if production is not Cobb-Douglas, as in the New Growth literature, one needs to account for knowledge spillovers; this is what Crafts tries to do in his article). If there are measurement errors in capital, labor, or output, this affects the measurement of TFP. So if there’s enough measurement error, it may not be possible to spot true rises in productivity from residual TFP estimates.
This point, if consequential, would negate the evidence form Crafts. Crafts finds that the percentage of per-person growth attributable to the invention/usage of steam power in Industrial Revolution England is significantly less than growth attributable to electricity or information communication technology (ICT) in America in later years. While this evidence supports the revisionist view of Industrial Revolution growth being small, it may be an artifact of bad measurement.
The Williamson article supports the Berg/Hudson view. The basic idea of the argument is creative and extremely stimulating: Economics forces could’ve led to fast growth in Industrial Revolution England, but a growth in war/taxation negated this, leading to mild/moderate growth. While intriguing, I would’ve liked to see more rigor in Williamson’s evidence. He could’ve used formal time series tests of the effect of government/war spending on output/growth, and perhaps related this to the modern macro or public finance literature. Also, it is frequently taught that war has been good at times for growth in American history (e.g. the popular view that World War II helped break the Great Depression, the Cold War helped fuel the 50s boom, etc.) so merely pointing out that taxes/war spending rose and growth was modest does not yet constitute a convincing causal case.
The Temin paper argues that the Industrial Revolution was a period of general industrial growth and not just growth in a few industries (e.g. cotton and iron). It does this by showing that England exported a broad range of products (not just cotton and iron) during the Industrial Revolution. This is somewhat of a roundabout argument, and I also would’ve liked to see a more formal, contemporary trade model.
That the late 18th century/early 19th century was a period of socioeconomic transformation can be easily seen in non-scientific measurements, e.g. Charles Dickens novels about the industrial working-class. Maybe economic data or measurement technique is just not developed enough yet to see what was going on.

I Romem

Greg Clark is correct in asking what aspect of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century England it is that affords it the title of "Industrial Revolution". This is a question that perhaps ought to have been asked by the authors of all of this week's readings. Clark proceeded to limit the matter to the two possibilities of sustained productivity growth on the one hand and widespread productivity growth on the other. I believe the remaining authors have implicitly assumed the same answers to this question as Clark suggests outright, however I think he is missing the point when he limits the answer the way he does.

For starters, he suggests that if widespread productivity growth is the criteria for selecting what time and place to label as the Industrial Revolution, then the United States circa 1870 is a much more apt choice. If I were making his point I would go further and suggest early 21st century China as the locus of the Industrial Revolution, as it dwarfs both the American industry of the 1870's and the English one a century earlier (in fact, the same argument is valid in countering any belittling of the Industrial Revolution that could be framed by Clark's findings in "The Solow Productivity Paradox in Historical Perspective"). But this is not the main point.

Clark suggested that sustained productivity growth, such as that which began in the Netherlands in the 16th century, is what ought to define the "true" Industrial Revolution. This argument is more important, because it sheds light on what distinguishes the Industrial Revolution in England from other times and places in history. Suppose that in 1775 the English had made a magical invention – let us call it the "speed-up-iter" – that allowed any task whatsoever to be completed in half the time. The "speed-up-iter" would clearly have had a profound effect on English productivity, and supposing that its adoption were gradual it could even have had a protracted effect on the growth of productivity, rather than just a level effect. Surely, this would have qualified as the grand Industrial Revolution? Not so, I argue. The speed-up-iter revolution, regardless of its effect reflection in productivity measures, would not have possessed the qualitative characteristics that comprise the essence of the Industrial Revolution.

So what are the defining qualitative characteristics of the Industrial Revolution? My immediate suggestions are probably not the most distilled, but they are as follows:
1) The industrial revolution saw the removal of production from the household or the adjacent workshop, and into thoroughly urban factories.
2) One ramification is the unprecedented increase in urbanization rates that England experienced at the time. It is true that previous periods of economic growth saw rises in urbanization rates; however the extent of the urban revolution in England at the time was absolutely unprecedented, and had novel social consequences, such as the birth of the urban working class.
3) Another ramification has to do with the scale of production. Unlike the speed-up-iter, which merely allowed people to produce their traditional "autarkic" household products faster (I use the word autarkic in conscious exaggeration), the high productivity of the Industrial Revolution could only be achieved by production on a grand scale. This "required", or perhaps induced, changes in consumption patterns that may not have taken place otherwise. It also changed the character of a worker's job, paradoxically demanding far less expertise of him than was required of a craftsman in any previous period, despite his increased "specialization" (at screwing on toothpaste caps, so to speak).
This is just a very initial list and there are surely many, many issues I have overlooked.

As for the readings:

Williamson's argument that the Industrial Revolution is "hidden" from the aggregate macro data because it was concurrent with the Napoleonic wars is convincing, however it is – in a sense – orthogonal to the discussion. As Berg & Hudson explain, aggregate macro data may not be the right place to look. The Industrial revolution was localized, rather than a national affair (as is any innovation at first!). Moreover, the macro data are flawed in many respects, many of which have to do with using TFP as a measure of productivity, as well as more detailed issues of measurement. Temin's argument is that the Industrial Revolution deserves its title because, as he gives evidence, it was not limited to the textile and iron sectors, but rather it encompassed the entire manufacturing sector. His is a sound argument, but I do not think that encompassing the entire sector is a good justification of the title, simply because the speed-up-iter would encompass the entire sector, too.

Edson R Severnini

Berg and Hudson (1992) write that the “historiography of the Industrial Revolution in England has moved away from viewing the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a unique turning point in economic and social development”. I agree with their conclusion that the literature has moved in that direction. Indeed, Williamson (1984) shows that British growth and industrialization was slow between the 1760s and the 1820s; Clark (2001) seems agree with him; the Temin (1997)'s tests seems corroborate the view that Industrial Revolution was a broad change in the British economy and society; and, finally, de Vries (1994) claims for a “industrious revolution”, a broad change in household behavior from the mid-seventeenth century until the early nineteenth.

Although Williamson (1984) argues that the contributions of the total factor productivity can be relevant to explain the Britain growth prior 1820, he emphasize that the low capital formation shares in national income, low rates of accumulation, and thus little change in the capital-labor ratio, generated a slow growth and industrialization between the 1760s and the 1820s. He explains the behavior of these indicators by the enormous debt issues that England used to finance the French Wars. According to him, the war debt crowded out civilian accumulation, inhibited growth, and contributed to the dismal performance in the workers' standard of living. That is, the rate of accumulation was suppressed by war very below that it would have been in peace. As a consequence of this evidence, the importance of the Industrial Revolution is reduced. Clark (2001) seems agree with Williamson when says that the Industrial Revolution “can then be interpreted as just another isolated technological advance as European economies had been witnessing since at least the fifteenth century”.

Temin (1997) uses a Ricardian model of international trade to test two views of the British Industrial Revolution: the view of broad change in the British economy and society, and the view of technical change in only a few industries. His test seems corroborate the first view in the sense that the Industrial Revolution saw increases in productivity not only in the cotton and iron factories in the first half of the nineteenth century, but also saw changes in other industries. In his words, “Britain became the workshop of the world, not just the cotton factory of the world”. Furthermore, he shows that there were new organizations of work. He argues that the “flexible specialization”, for example, that has been thought of as a description of French industrialization, seems describe a significant part of the Industrial Revolution in Britain.

Finally, de Vries (1994) points out many shortcomings in the concept of Industrial Revolution and proposes a new concept: the “industrious revolution”. He claims that there is evidence that a broad phenomenon can be found from the mid-seventeenth century into the early nineteenth, consisted of two transformations: the reduction of leisure time as the marginal utility of money income rose, and the reallocation of labor from goods and services for direct consumption to marketed goods. In other words, a new strategy for the maximization of household utility. As a result of this process of household-based resource reallocation, he argues that the industrious revolution increased both the supply of marketed commodities and labor and the demand for market-supplied goods, and then had important demand side features that preceded the Industrial Revolution, a supply-side phenomenon.

Therefore, the arguments presented by the authors above seem support the gradualist perspective of the Industrial Revolution mentioned by Berg and Hudson (1992). Because of this, the latter authors claim that the Industrial Revolution should be rehabilitated. Indeed, they argue that growth and productivity change in that period are underestimated and, more importantly, that growth rates on their own are inadequate to the task of identifying and comprehending that revolution. Moreover, they identify both problems of underestimation and of the measurement in four areas that they argue that were fundamental and unique during the Industrial Revolution: technical and organizational innovation outside the factory sector, the deployment of female and child labor, regional specialization, and demographic development.

Gabriel Chodorow-Reich

If the fifty or hundred years following the industrial revolution had not exhibited the productivity growth and technological innovation they did, would we still see the period from 1780 to 1860 as “a unique turning point in economic and social development?" Certainly, without the advances achieved during that period there would not have been airplanes in WWI or atom bombs in WWII. But would someone, writing in 1860, see the previous epoch as transformative as we view it today?

The negative view, characterized by Crafts and Clark, runs as follows. Britain experienced slower productivity during the onset of the industrial revolution than is often supposed. Moreover, what growth occurred was concentrated in only a few industries, most notably textiles. Technologies, such as the advent of the steam engine, spread more slowly than the “revolution” moniker would suggest. Hence the industrial revolution consisted of fast growth in a few narrow, export-oriented industries, and only later did widespread change occur.

On the other hand, Berg and Hudson quote essayists as early as 1814 reporting “astonishment” at the British economic performance. Reconstructed data support this view. In his table 1, Temin reports three estimates of annual productivity growth over the period 1780-1860. The estimates range from 0.55 to 1.19. Viewed from the perspective of Malthusian history, even the low estimate indicates a dramatic break from millennia of population increases absorbing the whole of output growth.

Explaining what happened in nineteenth century Britain presents a larger challenge. Williamson, Temin, and Berg and Hudson all take the view that something dramatic happened around 1800. And yet, they offer three distinct and possibly competing explanations for how the industrial revolution created a break with previous history. Williamson adheres to the traditional view of a technological revolution beginning around 1760, but finds that the (relatively) low observed rates of productivity growth and factor accumulation noted by Craft reflected the drain of war financing on Britain’s national resources. Temin rejects the notion of low aggregate productivity growth or its concentration in a few industries, relying on trade data and Ricardian assumptions to show that productivity growth increased across the manufacturing sector. Finally, Berg and Hudson argue that precisely the concentration of growth and subnational heterogeneity suggest that estimated aggregate numbers obfuscate even greater change at the local level.

To sum up, either low observed productivity occurred because of war financing, or in fact there was high and wide-spread productivity growth, or there was narrow productivity growth. Depending on perspective, perhaps all three phenomena occurred during different periods. Teasing out which effects dominated when seems a more fruitful avenue for research than denying that any of them occurred at all.

Insook Lee

By school of revisionist, Industrial Revolution might look under vital attack to their own existence in the history, at least to view of Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson. Although how we define Industrial Revolution may throw different view and favor, if we narrow down to the view of breakthrough in production technology, argument by Crafts (2002) that only 0.008-0.012 of steam technology was serve to economic growth will be a blow to it. Contrasting the effect of informational technology, it might be skeptical whether Industrial Revolution was revolution or not. To ask if revisionist too far so that belittle Industrial Revolution unduely might depend on how we define it, such as whether societal dimension is to be concerned or not. However, if we temporarily admit that economic aspect is primary concern, then the slow growth rate of income as well as technology matters. I partially agree with Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson’s defense in the sense that measurement error such as indexing problems, ignoring service sectors, omitting children and women labors etc totally grounded point.
At first, it is well known that growth accounting is not indicating the dynamics of economy to be qualified decent tool for analysis of fundamental economic discontinuity. The critique on this by Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson is persuasive to me. For an example, for the same macro economic figure, Jeffery Williamson, based on Mill Ashton hypothesis, logically reasoned that the sluggish growth in this era was caused by heavy debt from French war and following crowding-out effect and capital accumulation, instead of slowing down of technology. Rather, according to Williamson, it was technology that lead income increase. Furthermore, looking within the economy and industrial level, the independence of sectors and limited spillovers of technology innovation, as revisionist stands, also loses some point. Temin showed that the industry benefited from technology was not that much restricted as Crafts and Harley believes, using Ricardian model, even when ignoring service sector data missing and transaction cost barriers. In line with this, the critique on the boundary that Solow residual bears also gains my credit. Even now, more rich data on the macro economic data, SNA is still controversial, how can firmly evidenced with sparse and indirectly constructed data can provide accurate analysis about how technology affected the economy as a whole. If we take into other factors like social infrastructure or institution in this residual, which also makes its own sense, the argument related TPF stick to technology innovation flies away. Furthermore, I am skeptical to apply CRS function in that era is well grounded approach
Nevertheless, I should hold my conclusion about their conclusion after seeing through various articles on the revisionist to see how they moved away the existential meanings if they did. Finding overestimation or underestimation of the previously belief on the economic historical point might not luster the uniqueness of that phenomenon, if based on sound logic.

Alexandre Poirier

Judging by the readings of this week, I would agree with Berg and Hudson's point that viewing the Industrial Revolution as a unique, critical event is a correct interpretation of the events. Of the four articles on the reading list, only Crafts(2001) disagrees with their point. He evaluates the contribution of three technologies to TFP growth: the steam engine, electricity and information and communications technology. He uses the framework of the Solow model, and runs a regression to find estimates of the Solow Residual, which represents the fraction of economic growth not imputable to capital accumulation or an increased labor supply. He finds that the ICT revolution had a significantly larger impact on TFP growth than electricity and steam. Of course, a potential problem in this study is measurement error: data from 20 years ago is more complete and accurate than that of one or two centuries ago. The data for capital shares for electricity and steam are scarce. Also, one could argue that the discovery of the steam engine was not the sole driving force of the industrial revolution, and that the compounded effect of steam, and other new technologies, may have had a large, significant impact on TFP growth. This caveat is one of Berg and Hudson's main objection to the Solow Residual framework: measurement error in labor, capital is compounded to give imprecise TFP growth estimates.

Temin examines whether growth in England during this period was mainly due to industries like cotton. He finds that, in fact, growth in industry was somewhat uniformly distributed. He uses a clever method: he shows that England exported a large quantity and variety of goods during the Industrial Revolution, using English Parlimentary records. One would expect, assuming a Ricardian trade model, that an increase in productivity in most goods drove down their relative price, hence increasing the exported quantity. The export/import records correspond to a country that is experiencing great productivity growth in most sectors.

In the Williamson article, he argues that economic growth during the industrial revolution was slowed down by participating in many conflicts. Between 1760 and 1820 England, was at war for 36 years. To prove his point, he examines debt accumulation by the British government during this period, and finds that the massive issuing of bonds to finance this debt may have crowded out investment in capital. He mentions that all the new technologies of this era created strong demand for capital investment, but this demand was not met, because in part citizens did not save enough: they were buying bonds to finance the war. He examines a counter-factual world in which England was not at war, and shows that capital accumulation would have been much larger.

In conclusion, comparing the industrial revolution to more recent events brings up the problem of data quality. It is a possibility that we will never know for certain the exact TFP figures for this period, unless we come up with new data, or better methods.


Berg and Hudson begin with this claim and continue by providing evidence that the Industrial Revolution really was a significant event by countering claims from those making the case that it was less revolutionary than previously assumed.

Are they right? From this week’s readings, my inclination is that they are right that the industrial revolution should not be minimized, but it was less convincing that it had been dismissed as a non-revolutionary time and was so in need of being saved.

First, of course this week’s readings are only a small selection of the current literature on the industrial revolution and thus any claim that I could make as to the direction of the literature is clearly premature. Still, none of these articles make the claim that the industrial revolution was inconsequential or unimportant or seem to in any way weaken its standing in history. Temin argues that those who might claim that it occurred only within a couple of manufactured products are wrong and provides data that shows expansion and changes/modernization in other manufactures. Williamson makes the case that estimates of the strength of the industrial revolution underestimate its influence because the impact was obscured by the simultaneity of wars which had different effects. Crafts refers to the industrial revolution as a major event although he argues that the impact of steam was smaller than that of the introduction of electricity or ICT in similar “revolutions.”

Berg and Hudson cite Crafts and Williamson regularly as down-players of the magnitude and importance of the Industrial Revolution (Berg and Hudson, 27, 28, 35, etc.). Yet their assigned papers, admittedly only two of many cited from these articles in the Berg and Hudson article, did not appear to discount the importance but rather made the claim that another factor made its performance appear weaker than it actually was.

Speculation leads me to wonder whether both Crafts and Williamson include statistics that are then widely cited by other articles that downplay the revolution but in neither of these articles do either of them give the impression that they dismiss the claim that the Industrial Revolution was revolutionary.

The conversation between Crafts and Williamson and Berg and Hudson is complex. While Berg and Hudson present their paper as a disagreement with Crafts and Williamson and those who use their statistics, there are numerous cases of agreement. For example, Berg and Hudson argue – along the lines of Williamson’s thesis – that growth rates alone are insufficient in determining the impact of changes occurring during the Industrial Revolution. In another instance Berg and Hudson argue against the claim that Napoleonic wars were the origin of social tensions (25) while Williamson argues that wars were a factor that didn’t diminish the strength of the Industrial Revolution but rather obscured it. Crafts and Williamson may downplay the Industrial Revolution in other articles but in these they both appear to hold it up as an example of a large change – one that can help to understand the recent/current ICT revolution as Craft argues, and one that is underestimated as Williamson argues.

Omar Nayeem

The revisionist view that the Industrial Revolution was not as discontinuous or dramatic a turning point for the British economy as traditionally believed typically relies on growth accounting methods in its support. Given that these methods were not available when the traditional view of the British Industrial Revolution was originally formulated, the revisionist view might be seen as a more informed assessment. Among this week’s readings, we have two papers (by Williamson and Crafts) that advance, or at least agree with, the revisionist view. In defense of the traditional view, we have the Berg-Hudson paper and the Temin paper. The Clark readings, to some extent, reconcile these differing positions. Since all of these papers were written after the emergence of the revisionist view and the methods on which its case was made, they all bring similarly informed perspectives to the discussion. After having read the evidence and conclusions set forth in each paper, my sense is that different participants in this debate are really looking to answer different, and specifically framed, questions that they then tie to the more general and imprecisely framed question of how dramatic a turning point the Industrial Revolution was.

Williamson’s position in this debate is made clear in the title of his paper: “Why Was British Growth So Slow During the Industrial Revolution?” Rather than attempting to demonstrate slow growth (which, he notes in his introduction, has already been done by Crafts, Harley, Lindert, and himself), he tries to identify its causes. He notes early on that growth increased after about 1820, which is two decades after the generally accepted start of the Industrial Revolution. In addition to the low growth rate figures, he also cites low saving rate figures, which imply a low level of capital accumulation. The primary reason he gives for low growth is Britain’s large accumulation of war debt during this period. (He notes that Britain was at war for 36 of the 60 years following 1760.) War debt, which was issued at high interest rates, had a crowding-out effect on civilian debt, and this effect in turn limited investment and hence capital accumulation. In his conclusion, Williamson notes that, unlike in many other cases (both historical and contemporary) of industrialization, growth in Britain prior to 1820 was primarily explained by rises in total factor productivity as opposed to capital accumulation. Craft’s paper does not deal with this debate directly, but he includes estimates of the impact of the steam engine on British economic growth between 1760 and 1860; he argues that it was markedly lower than the impact of information technology on U.S. growth between 1974 and 2000. Both of these papers use standard growth accounting methods in their estimates.

Berg and Hudson attempt to dismiss the revisionists’ conclusions that rely on total factor productivity growth. They note that, although productivity gains were modest, they must have been sufficient to support a rapidly growing population that would not have been sustainable under the Malthusian conditions of the preindustrial era. Much of their argument is devoted to questioning the accuracy of the estimates put forth by Crafts, Lindert, and Williamson; in particular they question the applicability of total factor productivity estimates to understanding the Industrial Revolution. They point out areas of change (social change especially, for example the entry of women and children into the labor force) that cannot be captured by growth accounting statistics and, in some cases, may not even be directly measurable. Their view is summarized in the opening sentence of their conclusion: “The industrial revolution was an economic and social process which added up to much more than the sum of its measurable parts.” Temin, on the other hand, employs a very different approach in his argument in favor of the traditional view. He applies a Ricardian trade model to see whether Britain was an exporter or importer of manufactured goods (aside from textiles and iron, which, even according to the revisionists, experienced large productivity gains). The results from Temin’s tests show that Britain exported manufactures and imported raw materials and foodstuffs. In a Ricardian model, these facts imply that Britain had a comparative advantage in manufacturing. One weakness I find in Temin’s argument, though, is that he provides no comparison with comparable data from preindustrial Britain. If a comparison of the data between preindustrial and industrial Britain shows a reversal of comparative advantage, Temin’s conclusion might be more compelling. He points to the comparative advantage as a sign of advances in British manufacturing, and while the conclusion is plausible, it is not ultimately as convincing as it may have been otherwise.

Clark’s view is that productivity gains were realized only in the manufacturing of textiles and that other exogenous factors (which he refers to as “accidents of demand, demography, and trade”) magnified the impact of the increased level of productivity in the textile industry as a whole. In fact, he believes that the rapid economic growth would have taken place even in the absence of the technological advances that are, in the traditionalist view, credited for the rapid growth. In this sense, he does not adopt a completely revisionist view; he does acknowledge that the Industrial Revolution had a broad impact on the British economy, but not for the traditionally accepted reason of major technological advances that, in turn, led to productivity gains. My position on this debate is similar; it is difficult to argue with the total factor productivity figures that are presented in support of the revisionist view, but the counterarguments put forth by Berg and Hudson, and Temin’s analysis, are also worthy of consideration. However, these bodies of evidence address different aspects of the Industrial Revolution; productivity growth, for example, does not explain everything. Hence, I feel that the debate over the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution’s impact is more a debate over how best to define “impact” than over anything else.

Wayne Feng

I would with Berg and Hudson in regards with our reading for this week for Clark and Crafts both compare the Industrial Revolution to other occurrences or possibilities. Clark mentions the realization of industrial possibility regardless, but also that productivity growth occurred within textiles. Crafts points out the greater gain in ICT. While these two readings do seem to deflate the idea of the Industrial Revolution as a unique turning point, the fundamental discussions about the Industrial Revolution does not seem to center on how unique it was but rather what caused it and how encompassing it was. Temin counter’s Craft’s point that the Industrial Revolution was limited to advances in iron and linen. Williamson argues that wars limited the apparent possibilities that existed for development during the Industrial Revolution, leading us to misinterpret growth. Berg and Hudson argue that we should look at a more local versus marco level as models such as TFP is limited in analyzing fundamental technology change versus growth. In all of these articles there does not seem to be a significant move to label the Industrial Revolution as not unique. In hindsight we can say that perhaps France could have had the revolution instead, or that modern growth greatly outpaces the Industrial Revolution. However in terms the actual impact of the Industrial Revolution there is no doubt about its role in context and as Berg and Hudson points out, the development over the long run is what matters. So while Berg and Hudson are correct in that some texts seek to downplay the uniqueness of the Industrial Revolution by questioning what caused it and whether or not the causes were singular to the British experience, I doubt any of the authors would argue against whether or not the Industrial Revolution was a turning point in terms of economic and social development. The changes economically are apparent in the long run. While socially the power structure may not have changed significantly, the demographics and urbanization of industrialization certainly set up the environment for future change. In this sense the Industrial Revolution was unique and a turning point. Clark and Crafts are essentially arguing about the actual surprise and mystery of the Industrial Revolution. By pointing out other similar events or alternative histories, they are trying to establish that the Industrial Revolution is itself was not as pervasive as some may think. I feel that Temin, Berg and Hudson provide ample evidence of against Clark and Crafts, but at the same time it is in the search of a clearer explanation of the Industrial Revolution. Williamson is a good example of this line of thinking where he provides evidence for why the data regarding the Industrial Revolution is paradoxical in growth (low growth by apparent progress) via reanalysis of data from a new perspective to rethink the Industrial Revolution.

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