British Relative Economic Decline Revisited

37 Pages Posted: 19 May 2011

Date Written: May 2011


This paper examines the role of competition in productivity perfromance in Britain over the period from the late-nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. A detailed review of the evidence suggests that the weakness of competition from the 1930s to the 1970s undermined productivity growth but since the 1970s stronger competition has been a key ingredient in ending relative economic decline. The productivity implications of the retreat from competition resulted in large part from interactions with idiosyncratic British institutional structures in terms of corporate governance and industrial relations. This account extends familiar insights from cliometrics both analytically and chronologically.

Keywords: competition, productivity, relative economic decline

JEL Classification: N13, N14, O52

Suggested Citation

Crafts, Nicholas, British Relative Economic Decline Revisited (May 2011). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8384. Available at SSRN:

Nicholas Crafts (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

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