Productivity Growth during the English Industrial Revolution: A Dual Approach
Hans Joachim Voth
This paper presents new estimates of total factor productivity growth in Britain for the period 1770-1860. We use a dual technique recently popularized by Hsieh (1999), and argue that the estimates we derive from factor prices are of similar quality to quantity-based calculations. Our results provide further evidence, derived from this independent set of sources, that productivity growth during the British Industrial Revolution was relatively slow. During the years 1770-1800, TFP growth was close to zero, according to our estimates. The period 1800-1830 experienced an acceleration of productivity growth. The Crafts-Harley view of the Industrial Revolution is thus reinforced. We also consider alternative explanations of slow productivity growth, and reject the interpretation that focuses on the introduction of steam as a general purpose technology.
British industrial revolution, productivity growth, dual measurement of productivity, general purpose technology
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