Edwardian Economics

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  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 01-06-16 22:38

Edwardian Economics


Workshop of the World

Britain had been the first country to experience a powerful industrial revolution, which led her to be regarded as the 'Workshop of the World' during the late Victorian Era. She was the only true industrial superpower. On the face of it Britain's wealth continued to rise thought out the Edwardian Era:

·         Between 1900-1913, GDP rose by about 1.7%  a year

·         Coalmining expanded from 223 million tons in 1900 to a bumper figure of 287 million tons in 1913

·         Britain still built around 60% of the world's merchant ships throughout the period 1900-1914

·         Staple industries continued to sell strong abroad, particularly textiles, and they amount to 66% of all British exports, 1911 to 1913

·         The figures for foreign investment was staggering by any standard, approximately £50 million in 1901, rising to £200 million a year between 1911 and 1913

Hence the signs were of a buoyant economy which was continuing to grow.

Retardation of Growth

However, there was actually a 'retardation of growth', which meant that growth was slowing down rather than an absolute decline. Britain's industry was failing to keep up with that of other countries, principally the USA and Germany. According to Professor Feinstein, the USA, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan all achieved growth rates productivity which were about twice those achieved in Britain. There were various signs of this slowing economic growth:

·         In 1870, Britain produced about 1/3 of the world's manufactured goods, by 1913, that had dropped to 14%. Whereas the USA had 35% and Germany had 16%

·         Britain failed to develop her technology for cheaper and more productive alternatives

o    Sydney Pollard claimed that 'only 18% of coal as cut mechanically in 1913 … Britain's [coal] pits seemed backwards'

o    British builders continued to use steam turbines instead of changing to oil-fired ones

o    Between 1905 and 1907, 95 new cotton mills were opened but all used old conventional equipment

o    British skilled craftsmen were second to none; it was the shortage of these skilled workers in countries like America which forced them to develop mass production  techniques

·         British industrialists seemed…


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