Coal Smoke and the Costs of the Industrial Revolution

86 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016

See all articles by William Walker Hanlon

William Walker Hanlon

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

While the Industrial Revolution brought economic growth, there is a long debate in economics over the costs of the pollution externalities that accompanied early industrialization. To help settle this debate, this paper introduces a new theoretically-grounded strategy for estimating the impact of industrial pollution on local economic development and applies this approach to data from British cities for 1851-1911. I show that local industrial coal use substantially reduced long-run city employment growth over this period. Moreover, a counterfactual analysis suggests that plausible improvements in coal use efficiency would have led to substantially higher urbanization rates in Britain by 1911.

Suggested Citation

Hanlon, William Walker, Coal Smoke and the Costs of the Industrial Revolution (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22921, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883958

William Walker Hanlon (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

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