An Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1800-1920: Demographic, Economic, and Social Transition

An Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1800-1920: Demographic, Economic, and Social Transition

An Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1800-1920: Demographic, Economic, and Social Transition

An Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1800-1920: Demographic, Economic, and Social Transition

Synopsis

This book provides a comprehensive account of Dutch history in the "long" nineteenth century. In this fascinating and instructive period the country saw extremely rapid population growth, awesome death rates, staggering fertility, some of the fastest economic growth in the world, a uniquely large and efficient service sector, a vast and profitable overseas empire, and relative tolerance. This is the only single-authored book currently available on this crucial period of Dutch history, and it will be of central importance to Dutch specialists, as well as European historians more generally.

Excerpt

We now move to an analysis of the inputs to the Dutch economy, over the course of the next two chapters. The inputs to the economy are divided as follows. In chapter 4, we deal with the traditional tripartite separation between labour, capital and materials. In looking at labour we shall examine the changing size of the Dutch labour force, its skills, its cost, and regional variations in that cost. Under capital we shall concentrate on financial capital, and take as a point of departure the traditional argument that Dutch industry was starved of funds in the nineteenth century. It will then be possible to arrive at a conclusion on the role played by the factor capital, in all its aspects, in the economic development of the country. At the end of chapter 4, we shift attention to materials, a category which includes land, minerals, and particularly energy sources, as well as other raw materials.

Chapter 5 contains an account and analysis of a number of other influences on the supply side of the economy, to do with what early economists called the 'organization' of the prime factors dealt with in chapter 4. Some of these organizational influences are now sometimes referred to as 'residuals', and they have to do with the efficiency and organization of the economy. We have isolated three categories for the purposes of inventory and analysis: entrepreneurship, technology and government policy. These categories are indispensable in the analysis of the fortunes and dynamics of the Dutch economy in the nineteenth century. A number of standard explanations of Dutch performance form the starting point of the investigation; for instance, that Dutch entrepreneurs were inadequate coupon-clippers unable to meet the challenges of industrialization, that Dutch technology was backward, and that government policy was wanting, especially before the midcentury. The framework provided by these arguments is not slavishly adhered to: they are but an entry point into laying out what precisely occurred in these aspects of the economy, and producing a balanced . . .

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