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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Explorations in Economic History, Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2003, Pages 52–77
This paper presents new estimates of total factor productivity growth in Britain for the period 1770–1860. We use the dual technique and argue that the estimates we derive from factor prices are of similar quality to quantity-based calculations. Our results provide further evidence, calculated on the basis of an independent set of sources, that productivity growth during the British Industrial Revolution was relatively slow. The Crafts–Harley view of the Industrial Revolution is thus reinforced. Our preferred estimates suggest a modest acceleration after 1800.
How rapid was productivity growth during the Industrial Revolution? Since the pioneering studies of Ashton (1948) as well as Deane and Cole (1962), this question has been central to the economic history of Britain, 1750–1850. It is also of wider interest for the speed and timing of productivity changes following major inventions. After the introduction of electric motors and the computer, for example, productivity performance remained sluggish for decades. When it did pick up, total factor productivity (TFP) increases were rapid and widespread. Of course, technological change need not be mirrored in TFP growth. As the recent work of the Boskin commission and of Nordhaus demonstrates, traditional measures such as price indices may miss substantial product innovation altogether.1 Yet it is important to examine how TFP changes during and after major inventions. Recent examples of slow productivity growth and rapid technical progress may not be aberrations, but could form part of a regular pattern if we can also demonstrate convincingly that England did not become much more efficient during the first few decades of the Industrial Revolution.2 Crafts and Harley have estimated modest rates of output growth during the Industrial Revolution.3 Crafts found that Deane and Cole (1962) had chosen an inappropriate price index with which to deflate the nominal income series in the national accounts, thus overstating growth. He also compiled alternative indices for agricultural, industrial and service output. His finding of substantially slower growth was reinforced by Harley, who argued that the earlier estimates of industrial production by Hoffmann (1955) had seriously overestimated growth (by giving too high a weight to the revolutionary cotton sector). Since rates of input growth have not been similarly revised downwards, their results also imply that the Solow residual was only growing relatively slowly during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.4 Deane and Cole did not provide any estimates of total factor productivity growth during the industrial revolution. Later work by Feinstein (1981), however, showed that Deane and Cole’s estimates implied remarkably rapid total factor productivity growth, especially for the period 1801–1831.5 Using the standard, primal approach to growth accounting, Feinstein estimated annual productivity growth of 0.2% for the period 1760–1800 and of 1.3% for the period 1801–1830. The latest calculations by Crafts and Harley, based on their revised output series, imply increases of only 0.1% p.a. during 1760–1800 and 0.35% p.a. during 1800–1830 (Table 1). The new orthodoxy thus holds that both output and productivity growth were slow during the English Industrial Revolution. Also, advances were heavily concentrated in the ‘revolutionizing sectors’ such as cotton and iron manufacturing. These sectors were too small to have a sizeable impact on the manufacturing sector as a whole (and the economy at large) until the middle of the 19th century. What was ‘revolutionary’ about the Industrial Revolution was neither the speed of output growth nor its cause, but a broad structural transformation, reallocating labour from agriculture to industry.The new orthodoxy established by Crafts and Harley has attracted criticism from different perspectives.6 All contributors to the literature on the speed of output and productivity growth emphasize the fragility of the underlying data. As Feinstein said of his estimates of capital formation—“we are able to proceed only by reliance on conjecture and speculation.”7 Some critics of the dominant view argue that data revisions and changes in procedure should substantially modify it; others doubt the value of the exercise as such, given the limitations of the data and the number of non-quantitative aspects necessarily excluded. Berg and Hudson firmly fall into the second category. They emphasize demographic change, regional specialization, organizational changes and the evolution of female and child labour as areas that showed truly ‘revolutionary’ change. They also voice a general distrust of aggregate, quantity-based output and TFP calculations, and point to some potential sources of fragility of the estimates derived—such as the assumption of constant returns to scale.8 Their plea for the inclusion of non-quantitative evidence, and their sceptical evaluation of Crafts’s and Harley’s data work is in part a continuation of Julian Hoppit’s critique. He emphasized the difficulties of applying appropriate weights to the output series of individual industries. This is normally based on value-added, evidence on which is relatively fragile.9 Other critics have attempted to rework the original data, or to add new evidence. R.V. Jackson argues for higher weights for faster-growing industries.10 Based on a reexamination of the Crafts–Harley data set, he challenges the view that industrial output growth did not accelerate until the second decade of the nineteenth century.11 His series of industrial output suggests a break in the trend rate of growth as early as the 1780s. Overall, however, his index is not too different from the one proposed by Crafts and Harley, and they have accepted his estimates as a possible alternative interpretation of the data.12Cuenca Esteban, 1994 and Cuenca Esteban, 1995 has attempted to use additional information on the price of cotton goods derived from contemporary customs estimates to argue that Crafts and Harley have understated the growth of cotton output. Overall output growth for England would be markedly higher if his corrected figures for textile production are used. Crafts and Harley have defended their estimates.13 Cuenca Esteban’s alternative index is not generally accepted as a superior measure of changing cotton prices.14 Finally, Temin has used a novel approach to lend credence to the idea that productivity advances were relatively wide-spread. He analysed the pattern of British trade during the period to examine revealed comparative advantage. While not calculating TFP directly, Temin argues that slow (and heavily concentrated) productivity growth should have turned England into a net importer of most manufactured goods.15 Since Britain continued to export most industrial goods, he rejects the notion of limited and minimal productivity advances. Crafts and Harley (2000) use a CGE-model to show that the trade data can be reconciled with concentrated (and slow) productivity growth, generating some puzzling implications in the process.16 The marked improvements in quantity-based national accounts over the past 20 years—especially in the case of capital inputs and overall output measurement—have therefore not led to an unquestioned consensus. Independent of the merits of individual challenges, continuing debate over the core elements of the Crafts–Harley view shows that what is needed are new results based on additional data, using a different technique to extract information from the same set of underlying methodological assumptions. In this paper, we use a dual approach to derive independent estimates of TFP growth during the English Industrial Revolution. Based on factor prices, we show that there is clear evidence of slow productivity growth. Using an unrelated method and independent data, the main aspects of the new orthodoxy still emerge, thus adding to our confidence in the Crafts–Harley view. Section 2 briefly introduces the dual approach to TFP accounting, and argues that in the case of historical data, it will yield estimates that are at least as reliable as those derived from the primal approach. We then discuss the data sources used in our calculations. Section 3 presents our new estimates of TFP growth, and confronts these with existing calculations. In Section 4, we conduct a number of sensitivity tests. We conclude with some observations on the wider implications of our findings.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Critics of productivity and growth estimates during the industrial revolution often imply that the Crafts–Harley view, and the quantity-based calculations on which it is based, is little more than a house of cards. In particular, some scholars have argued that output and productivity growth during the English industrial revolution must have been more rapid than the current orthodoxy has claimed.71 This paper shows that independent evidence, using an alternative method, yields results that are very similar to the Crafts–Harley view. We base our productivity calculations on factor prices, and thereby offer confirmation of the main findings by Crafts and Harley from a new and independent source. The quality of our estimates can only be as high as our sources allow. Yet, as Feinstein reminds us:72 “The case for quantification in the face of the multitude of gaps and uncertainties in the available data is not that it provides definitive estimates. It is, rather, that it helps to establish orders of magnitude, and to test how robust or vulnerable the estimates are to different assumptions and judgements the statistician is forced to make in the face of a lack of satisfactory evidence.” It is in this spirit that our results need to be interpreted. Productivity growth was very slow during the last decades of the eighteenth century, and may even have been zero. This is compatible with the Crafts–Harley view, and reinforces recent findings that further downward revisions of primal TFP calculations due to higher labour input may well be in order.73 There was no ‘take-off’ in the sense of Rostow. What acceleration there was occurred after 1800, and was mild. The efficiency with which the economy combined factors of production never increased at a rate markedly faster than 0.5% before 1830, and probably much less than that. How can the evidence in favour of slow productivity growth be squared with the data on foreign trade? Since Temin finds strong evidence that Britain became an exporter of all manufactured goods, he argues that productivity growth must have been relatively widespread. This would also suggest that aggregate growth rates have been underestimated. One of the central underlying assumptions in the Ricardian model of trade as used by Temin is that the relative price of factors of production does not change, and that wages are a good proxy for the overall cost of manufacturing. Our data on the remuneration of factors directly shed light on this question. We find that the rental price of capital fell while wages rose in the first period; in the second, rental growth outpaced wage increases. The data used in the calculation of our dual productivity estimates therefore also demonstrate why the foreign trade data in themself—interpreted in Ricardian framework—are not necessarily at variance with the Crafts–Harley view of the Industrial Revolution. Britain may have manufactured a wide range of goods because factors of production other than labour were relatively cheap. The dual approach also highlights the close connection between productivity growth on the one hand and the course of living standards on the other. Some scholars appear comfortable with a relatively pessimistic view of changes in living standards, while at the same time arguing that productivity growth has been understated (and is an insufficient measure of the speed of change).74 These are contradictory positions, as dual measurement of productivity growth makes clear. Unless the labour share in national income moved very sharply—for which there appears to be no reliable evidence—real wage growth in the long run has to follow the trend rate of TFP increases.75 Our dual estimates of productivity growth during the Industrial Revolution do not provide definitive estimates that could supersede the existing ones, based on primary TFP measures. Rather, they are useful because they add independent support using an altogether different method to the Crafts–Harley view. Even a house of cards can be remarkably stable if numerous independent elements support each other.