Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: A reappraisal of the evidence

Nicholas Crafts, Terence C. Mills, Abay Mulatu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper revisits the issue of the productivity performance of Britain's railways with an improved dataset and modern cliometrics. We find a slowdown in TFP growth between 1850 and 1870, after which it stabilized at about 1.1%. An analysis of company-level productivity performance reveals large discrepancies in TFP growth and substantial cost inefficiency. The evidence suggests that there was managerial failure in companies with agency problems in a context of collusion and high entry barriers. A wider implication is that the neoclassical exoneration of late-Victorian British management may be less convincing for the services sector than for manufacturing. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-634
Number of pages26
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

Keywords

  • Railways
  • Total factor productivity

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