437/2019 Nicholas Crafts and Terence C. Mills
This paper re-examines UK productivity growth in the decades before World War I using a new dataset compiled by Thomas and Dimsdale (2017). We find that the productivity slowdown of the early 20th century was quite modest and does not deserve to be called a climacteric. A more serious slowdown in labour productivity growth occurred in the 1870s. Neither of these episodes should be regarded as a precedent for the current severe deterioration in UK productivity performance. Nor should a late-Victorian productivity slowdown be attributed to the end of the steam age despite the popularity of this belief.
European Review of Economic History