chapter  1
16 Pages

1. Great Britain: The Pioneer Industrial Revolution

Slow Rate of Growth Possibly the most marked characteristic of the British process of industrialization, as compared with others, is its slow rate of growth. The data base, particularly for the eighteenth century, is fraught with uncertainties, and even its key element, the size and growth rate of the population, is not without dispute. Nevertheless, most historians now agree that the first decades of the industrial revolution, dated conventionally to start somewhere between 1760 and 1780, saw at most a scarcely perceptable rise from the previous very modest rate of economic growth, and even most of that was swallowed up by the growing population, so that the increase per head was practically negligible. Only in the last years of the century did a very slight acceleration begin which was then continued more markedly to reach quite respectable growth figures by the middle of the nineteenth century.