First published in 1978, Professor O’Brien’s Economic Growth in Britain and France 1780-1914 is an original and pioneering exercise in comparative and quantitative economic history. It finds a controversial place in the debate on the question of French retardation in the 19th century and as a brave and important contribution towards the understanding of economic growth in Western Europe. The author attempts to comprehend and evaluate the economic performance of France through explicit comparisons with Britain, while considering British economic history from a French perspective. Challenging the orthodox view that France lagged behind Britain in economic terms, the book argues that there were two paths of economic growth to the 20th century, with France’s path seen as a more humane and no less efficient transition to industrial society.
Part 1: Historiography, Data and Methods 1. Definitions and Historiography of Retardation 2. Data and Methods Part 2: Welfare 3. Per Capita Income and Real Wages Part 3: Productivity 4. The Productivity of Labour and Structural Change 5. Agriculture 6. Industry
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