The Cambridge Economic History of Europe from the Decline of by Peter Mathias, M. M. Postan

By Peter Mathias, M. M. Postan

This quantity examines the historical past of commercial economies reminiscent of capital, labour and company inside of Europe.

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Additional resources for The Cambridge Economic History of Europe from the Decline of the Roman Empire, Volume 7: The Industrial Economies: Capital, Labour and Enterprise, Part 1: Britain, France, Germany and Scandinavia

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As the limitations of the data will remain severe, this measure will continue to be used. But let us ask, as we did with the measure of the national product, what is being measured. To count the number of people who can work is to measure the potential labour input rather than the actual input: no account is taken of unemployment. It is virtually impossible to find reliable data on unemployment before the twentieth century, and no correction for unemployment is possible. Consequently, the measure of potential input that we use does not quite match a measure of actual output.

It has to do with the evolution of productivity, and in that formal sense it explains the increase of output that we call economic growth. There are other, at least equally important, things to be said, but this method cannot say them. It can say that the growth of employment accounts for so much growth of output, and so much more when the improved quality of labour is given appropriate weight. It cannot say why the supply of labour did not increase faster or slower, or why it was not more or less mobile from place to place, from country to city, from farm to factory.

Capital, we said, consisted of inventories - goods produced in one year but not used till a later year. To value the capital stock we need to know what kind of goods comprise these inventories, and the choice of price indexes is the same as the choice of assumptions on this very question. Using a wholesale price index assumes that the inventories are composed of consumer goods (or their equivalent); Cambridge Histories Online © Cambridge University Press, 2008 THE INPUTS FOR GROWTH 19 using the prices of inputs, that they are composed of these inputs.

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