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Forging Ahead, Falling Behind and Fighting Back
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Book description

To what extent has the British economy declined compared to its competitors and what are the underlying reasons for this decline? Nicholas Crafts, one of the world's foremost economic historians, tackles these questions in a major new account of Britain's long-run economic performance. He argues that history matters in interpreting current economic performance, because the present is always conditioned by what went before. Bringing together ideas from economic growth theory and varieties of capitalism to endogenous growth and cliometrics, he reveals the microeconomic foundations of Britain's economic performance in terms of the impact of institutional arrangements and policy choices on productivity performance. The book traces Britain's path from the first Industrial Revolution and global economic primacy through to its subsequent long-term decline, the strengths and weaknesses of the Thatcherite response, and the improvement in relative economic performance that was sustained to the eve of the financial crisis.


‘A magisterial bird's eye interpretation of the vast and complex literature on British economic performance since the Industrial Revolution till the present day. Only a scholar of Crafts's learning and wisdom could have accomplished so much in a short book.'

Joel Mokyr - author of The Enlightened Economy: an Economic history of Britain, 1700–1850

‘Really superb - a magnificent achievement. It is difficult to find a more readable history of British economic growth from early industrialization until the present digital revolution. Crafts' book will be read by anyone interested in the interrelationship between economic performance and institutional legacies and government policies. His main conclusions represent an original voice that provides important lessons for the post-Brexit era.'

Herman de Jong - University of Groningen

‘Essential reading on the UK experience of economic growth from Industrial Revolution to the recent financial crisis. A synthesis of the latest empirical research across a broad range of disciplines assessed through the framework of modern economics, this book identifies long-standing deficiencies in the operation of the economy, and shows ‘history matters'.'

Sara Horrell - University of Cambridge

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