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工业革命,英国何以拔得头筹?(1)  

2009-05-28 22:14:41|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Why Britaingot there first

工业革命,英国何以拔得头筹?

(1)


JUST why the industrial revolution took place in Britain is apuzzle that arouses fierce emotions among social scientists. François Crouzet,a French historian, calls the search for an explanation “somehow akin to thequest for the Holy Grail”. Was it because capitalism was further along in Britain than in, say, France,the Netherlands or indeed China? Because Britain’sconstitutional monarchy after 1688 minimised the intervention of the state andentrenched property rights? Because the British were better at science, orculturally more attuned to technology? Or did dumb luck drop the first spinningjenny on Lancashire rather than Lyon?

工业革命何以发生在英国,这个问题,就是一个难题。社会科学家对此会有强烈的情绪。法国历史学家FrançoisCrouzet,称对此问题的答案的搜寻“近于对圣杯解释的寻求”。是因为英国的资本主义发展程度超过了法国、荷兰或实际上的中国?是因为英国1688年后的君主立宪制,最小化了国家干预,强化了产权制度?是因为英国在科学上更具优势,或者,具有与科学技术更加匹配的科学?还是因为偶然的好运,把第一台织布机落到了英国的Lancashire,而没有落到法国的Lyon?

This debate matters, for the industrial revolution is quiteprobably the most important economic development of the past 500 years. Itproduced not a once-only step-up in productivity but a century-and-a-half ofindustrial expansion and continuing innovation that transformed liveseverywhere. What is more, it stemmed from the globalisation of the early-modernperiod (Tudors, and all that) and gave rise to more. With global crisis raginganew, readers could do worse than ponder that long-ago upheaval.

这个话题有意义,因为工业革命,非常可能是过去500年里的最重要的经济发展事件。它给人类带来的,不是一次了事的生产率提升,而是长达一个半世纪的工业扩张和持续创新,因而也就使世界各地的生活发生了变化。更重要的,它来自于前现代时期(都铎王朝,以及所有的这个时期)的全球化,并创造了更多东西。看看现在重新呼啸而来的全球危机,人们如果不去思考这个从前的经济剧变,就不能有所进步。

Robert Allen’s analysis will delight many economists, forhe deals in measurable factors such as wages and prices. An American professorof economic history at Oxford University and long a writer in this field, hesuggests that most explanations for Britain’s industrial revolutionfocus too much on supply—of inquiring scientists, landless workers, helpfullaws. These conditions were conducive to a great leap forward but notsufficient. Nor were they exclusive to Britain. Property rights werearguably more secure in France;much of the science behind the steam engine took place in Italy and Germany; the Dutch were highlyurbanised. The industrial revolution occurred in Britain in the 18th and early 19thcenturies for one overwhelming reason, he argues: it was profitable there andthen. It met a demand.

Robert Allen的分析,会使许多经济学家,高兴万分。因为他处理的是可测因素(如工资和价格)。他是哈佛大学的经济史教授,也是这个领域里的著述甚丰的作者。他认为,大部分关于英国工业革命的解释,太过侧重于“供给方”了——爱穷究天理的科学家、无地的工人、有助的法律。这些条件,确实有助于经济的巨大跳跃,但是,却不是充分条件。这些条件,可不只是英国人才有的。产权制度在法律更加牢固,这一点可以论证;蒸气机科学,大部分来自于意大利和德国;荷兰具有高度的城市化。他指出,在18世纪和19世纪早期,英国发生了工业革命,有一个绝对压倒性的原因,那就是:那时那地,有利可图。它满足了需求。

By the early 1700s Britain was a country ofconspicuously high wages and cheap energy (coal). The great inventions of thatcentury—the steam engine, mechanical spinning, smelting iron with coke—allserved to economise on the expensive factor of production and use more of thecheaper one. Other countries were slow to follow suit not because they werestupid, sluggish or repressed, but because they did not have that particularcombination of expensive labour and inexpensive energy.

直到1700年代早期,英国是一个极高工业和极廉价能源(煤)的国家。那个百年里的巨大发明——蒸气机、机械纺织技术以及焦炭炼钢——都能使生产要素变得更加便宜,而且,能利用更加廉价的生产要素。其它国家,所以落后一步,没有跟进,并不是因为它们愚蠢、懒惰或受压迫,而是因为它们没有能够将昂贵的劳动力和不昂贵的能源特别地结合起来。

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