When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381–1851

Stephen Broadberry, Bruce Campbell, Bas van Leeuwen

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Abstract

Britain's labour force industrialised early. The industrial and service sectors already accounted for 40% of the labour force in 1381, and a substantial further shift of labour out of agriculture occurred between 1522 and 1700. From the early seventeenth century rising agricultural labour productivity underpinned steadily increasing employment in industry and services, so that by 1759 agriculture's share of the labour force had shrunk to 37% and industry's grown to 34%. Thereafter, industry's output acceleration during the Industrial Revolution owed more to gains in labour productivity consequent upon mechanisation than the expansion of employment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-27
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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