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Coal and the European Industrial Revolution

Author: Alan Fernihough; Kevin H O'Rourke; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 19802.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Alan Fernihough; Kevin H O'Rourke; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 868891086
Notes: Title from http://www.nber.org/papers/19802 viewed January 23, 2014.
"January 2014."
Description: 1 online resource (44 pages) : illustrations, maps.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 19802.
Responsibility: Alan Fernihough, Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke.

Abstract:

We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal had a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample.

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