Why the industrial revolution was British

Commerce, induced invention, and the scientific revolution

Robert (Bob) Allen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Britain had a unique wage and price structure in the eighteenth century, and that structure is a key to explaining the inventions of the industrial revolution. British wages were very high by international standards, and energy was very cheap. This configuration led British firms to invent technologies that substituted capital and energy for labour. High wages also increased the supply of technology by enabling British people to acquire education and training. Britain's wage and price structure was the result of the country's success in international trade, and that owed much to mercantilism and imperialism. When technology was first invented, it was only profitable to use it in Britain, but eventually it was improved enough that it became cost-effective abroad. When the 'tipping point' occurred, foreign countries adopted the technology in its most advanced form.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)357-384
    Number of pages28
    JournalEconomic History Review
    Volume64
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 1 2011

    Fingerprint

    Wages
    Invention
    Commerce
    Scientific Revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    Industrial revolution
    Energy
    International Trade
    Mercantilism
    Imperialism
    Labor
    British People
    Education
    Costs
    18th century
    International trade
    International standards

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Economics and Econometrics

    Cite this

    Why the industrial revolution was British : Commerce, induced invention, and the scientific revolution. / Allen, Robert (Bob).

    In: Economic History Review, Vol. 64, No. 2, 01.05.2011, p. 357-384.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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