I hope that historians and economists will treat this as a first stab at a subject where cross-European comparisons have been neglected in the past. There does not appear to have been any systematic attempt to analyse and quantify the economic history of regulation and public ownership in Europe. Much remains to be done, especially since my command of languages is limited so that this book is more a research monograph than a text. There are large gaps, set out at the end of chapter 1, in both topics and countries, which I hope others will address. In the meantime let me thank the large number of scholars who have, in one way and another, been most helpful and in particular: Francesca Antolin, Judith Clifton, Francisco Comin, Alexandre Fernandez, Massimo Florio, James Foreman-Peck, Daniel Fuentes, Renato Giannetti, Andre Giuntini, Ingrid Henriksen, Ole Hyldtoft, Gregorio Nunez, Dieter Schott and Richard Tilly.
Thanks are also due to the Leverhulme Trust for the invaluable financial support which gave me time for researching and writing.
Some of the ideas and data in Part II and in chapter 14 (the data on productivity) have appeared in the following publications by Cambridge University Press: ‘European Governments and the Infrastructure Industries c.1840–1914’, European Review of Economic History 8(1) (2004); ‘The Rise of the Service Sector’, in R. Floud and P. Johnson (eds.), The Economic History of Britain since 1700. III. Structural Change and Growth 1939–2000 (2004); ‘The Political Economy of Urban Utilities in Britain l840–l950’, in M. Daunton (ed.), Cambridge Urban History of Britain, III (2001).