Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Fourth Franqui Lecture: Energy and the Industrial Revolution

The video of my fourth Francqui lecture on the energy and the industrial revolution is now on Youtube:


The opening graph of population and GDP per capita in the United Kingdom since 0CE combines data from the Maddison Project at the University of Groningen and data produced by Steven Broadberry. The energy data in the next graph was compiled in a 2007 publication by Paul Warde. The graph of energy use in Europe since 1500 and the graph of the composition of energy use are from "Power to the People" by Astrid Kander, Paolo Malanima, and Paul Warde.

The next section of the presentation gives a high level summary of Daron Acemoglu's theory of directed technical change and applies it to the two case studies. The first is my paper coauthored with Jack Pezzey and Yingying Lu, forthcoming in JAERE, on directed technical change and the British industrial revolution. The second is my 2012 paper coauthored with Astrid Kander on the role of energy in the industrial revolution and modern economic growth. As I mentioned in the lecture, we didn't know much about the theory of directed technical change when we wrote this paper and it didn't influence our research. Yet we can explain the results in terms of the theory.

The graphs that open the section on the British industrial revolution use data from Broadberry and Warde as well as from Robert Allen's book on the industrial revolution (the price data). The painting of the Iron Bridge is by William Williams.

Opening the section on Sweden is a photo of the Aitik copper mine. We used data from the Historical National Accounts of Sweden and Astrid's PhD research. If you are wondering how the value of energy could be as large as the GDP in 1800 in Sweden this is because energy is an intermediate good. GDP is value added by labor and capital with land included in capital usually. Gross output of the economy is much larger than the GDP. A huge amount of economic activity was dedicated to producing food, fuel, and fodder.

The solar panels that open the concluding section are in Japan. I've forgotten where.

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