For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Steam as a General Purpose Technology: A Growth Accounting Perspective"

by Crafts, Nicholas (2004)


The contribution of steam to British economic growth in the nineteenth century is estimated using growth accounting methods similar to those recently employed to examine the role of ICT. The results indicate that steam contributed little to growth before 1830 and had its peak impact about a hundred years after Watt's famous invention. Only with the advent of high‐pressure steam after 1850 did the technology realise its potential. Compared with ICT, steam's impact on the annual rate of growth was modest. It is unlikely that these conclusions are vulnerable to quantification of hitherto unmeasured TFP spillovers.


General Purpose Technologies, Technology, Electricity, Information Technology, Historical Context, Historiography, British Context, Eighteent Century, Nineteenth Century


History of Technology

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