Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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Post-Malthusian Pre-industrial Finland
Miikka Voutilainen

Last modified: 2014-03-10


We contribute to literature dealing with the transition from pre-industrial stagnation to modern sustained economic growth by inspecting the existence of the so-called post-Malthusian phase as a primer for economic growth as predicted by unified growth theories (e.g. Galor (2011)). We utilize previously unused Finnish data of real wages and crude mortality and death rates from 1722 to 1913. The existing evidence based on English data does support the hypothesis that industrial revolution was preceded by a post-Malthusian phase in which income increased and caused population to grow, whereas scale effects, in form of agricultural productivity, offset the negative effect of population to living standards. Klemp & Møller (2013) present Scandinavian evidence from Sweden, Norway and Denmark deepening the argument outlined by Møller & Sharp (2014), concluding in favor of post-Malthusian phase in respective countries. According to Klemp & Møller (2013), the negative association between income and mortality was typical to Scandinavian long-term growth, contrasting findings from English data (e.g. Møller & Sharp (2014)). The inspection of Finland is especially interesting due to long-lasting economic backwardness, manifested in repeated famines still in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The preliminary inspection of Finnish data is in line with previous accounts, however. We are able to distinguish the existence of two co-integration relationships, subsequently supporting the non- stationarity of variables of interest and similarly rejecting the existence of stagnant Malthusian equilibrium in the eighteenth and nineteenth century Finland.