History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century

By Ivan T. Berend | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
ECONOMIC MODERNIZATION
IN THE HALF CENTURY
BEFORE WORLD WAR I

THE IMPACT OF WESTERN INDUSTRIALIZATION

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION affected all of Europe. The crucial concepts of modernity and progress were closely linked with railroads and industrial construction, which generated passionate patriotic feelings. Modernity became a central goal and a national program, and the economic modernization that resulted from failed revolutions and successful reforms from above in the second half of the nineteenth century, partial and circumscribed though it was, created a footing—reasonably firm in some countries, but unstable in others—for the nations of Eastern and Central Europe to join the economic rise of the West.

Meanwhile, an unlimited Western market for food and raw materials provided a major incentive to modernize old export sectors and create new ones, increasing their output in the region. The industrializing West grew from 45.1 million to 162.4 million people (i.e., by 360 percent) between 1800 and 1913 and multiplied its imports by leaps and bounds. Until the 1770s, British imports increased by 1 percent annually. Between 1800 and the 1860s, the annual growth rate of imports reached 5 percent. The value of British imports jumped from $118 million to $3.8 billion (U.S.$ 1913) between 1800 and 1913. More than one-quarter of these imports consisted of agricultural products (Deane and Cole 1967). French imports increased sevenfold between 1830 and 1913, and 7 percent of these imports were of grain and flour. Roughly 17 percent of Holland’s and 12 percent

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