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

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

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

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.

Excerpt

It is humbling to recognize the crucial role played by others in the completion of this book. This work began as a doctoral thesis at Northwestern University. Joel Mokyr supervised the thesis, was generous with his advice, and was very supportive of a project which was quite different in orientation and methodology from his own research. I cannot thank him enough. Jonathan R.T Hughes, Charlie Calomiris, and Gerald Goldstein also served on my dissertation committee, and contributed much in the way of advice and encouragement. Lou Cain, John Lyons, and Cormac O'Grada made a number of helpful suggestions. Last but not least, I owe a debt of gratitude to my fellow graduate students. Without such friends, this project would never have been completed.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada provided me with funding which allowed me to undertake several months of research in England and France, and to complete the final draft of the book. Over the last couple of years, along with the continued interest of Joel Mokyr in the project, I have benefitted from the comments of George Grantham and Michael B. Percy. Cheryle Ann Kaplan provided much-appreciated research assistance. The two anonymous referees both provided thoughtful and helpful criticism. Peter Blaney of McGill-Queen's has been a pleasure to deal with. Claire Gigantes did a masterful job of editing the manuscript. Charlene Hill typed most of the manuscript with her usual skill and speed. Maryon Buffel and Pat Gangur completed the task admirably.

I thank Elsevier Science Publishers for permission to use material previously published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

I end on a personal note. I was blessed with parents who never tried to push me in any direction but were always there to support me in whatever I chose to do. This book is for them.

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