The Journal of Economic History


Productivity Growth in the Industrial Revolution: A New Growth Accounting Perspective

a1 Professor of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, United Kingdom, WC2A 2AE. E-mail:


The issue of why productivity growth during the British industrial revolution was slow despite the arrival of famous inventions is revisited using a growth accounting methodology based on an embodied innovation model. The results highlight the relatively small and long-delayed impact of steam on productivity growth even when capital deepening is taken into account. Even so, technological change including embodiment effects accounted entirely for the acceleration in labor productivity growth that allowed the economy to achieve “modern economic growth.”