Mughal Decline, Climate Change, and Britain's Industrial Ascent: An Integrated Perspective on India's 18th and 19th Century Deindustrialization

51 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2006 Last revised: 18 Nov 2014

See all articles by David Clingingsmith

David Clingingsmith

Case Western Reserve University

Jeffrey G. Williamson

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus; Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

India was a major player in the world export market for textiles in the early 18th century, but by the middle of the 19th century it had lost all of its export market and much of its domestic market. India underwent secular deindustrialization as a consequence. While India produced about 25 percent of world industrial output in 1750, this figure had fallen to only 2 percent by 1900. We ask how much of India's deindustrialization was due to local supply-side forces -- such as political fragmentation in the 18th century and rising incidence of drought between the early 18th and 19th century, and how much to world price shocks. We use an open, three-sector neo-Ricardian model to organize our thinking about the relative role played by domestic and foreign forces. A newly compiled database of relative price evidence is central to our analysis. We document trends in the ratio of export to import prices (the external terms of trade) from 1800 to 1913, and that of tradable to non-tradable goods and own-wages in the tradable sectors back to 1765. Whether Indian deindustrialization shocks and responses were big or small is then assessed by comparisons with other parts of the periphery.

Suggested Citation

Clingingsmith, David Lawrence and Williamson, Jeffrey G., Mughal Decline, Climate Change, and Britain's Industrial Ascent: An Integrated Perspective on India's 18th and 19th Century Deindustrialization (November 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11730. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=842465

David Lawrence Clingingsmith

Case Western Reserve University ( email )

Cleveland, OH 44106
United States

Jeffrey G. Williamson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics, Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus ( email )

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