The Role of Transportation in the Industrial Revolution: A Comparison of England and France

Synopsis

Szostak develops a model that establishes causal links between transportation and industrialization and shows how improvements in transportation could have a beneficial effect on an economy such as that of eighteenth-century England. This model shows the Industrial Revolution to involve four primary phenomena: increased regional specialization, the emergence of new industries, an expanding scale of production, and an accelerated rate of technological innovation. Through detailed analysis, Szostak explicates the effects of the different systems of transportation in France and England on the four components of the Industrial Revolution. He outlines the development in late eighteenth-century England of a reliable system of all-weather transportation, made up of turnpike roads and canals, that was far superior to the system in France at the same period. He goes on to examine in detail the iron, textile, and pottery industries in each country, focusing on the effect of the quality of available transportation on the decisions of individual entrepreneurs and innovators. Szostak shows that in every case these industries were more highly developed in England than in France.