The speed of Europe’s 18th-century sailing ships is revamping history’s view of the Industrial Revolution

Economists have long seen the Industrial Revolution as a transformation of belching coal stacks and fiery furnaces. That’s not wrong, but it misses the sweeping changes that occurred across the British economy, setting the stage for our modern world.

Two economists from the University College Dublin wanted to see how 18th century British advancements were finding their way into other sectors. To get this data, Morgan Kelly and Cormac Ó Gráda reconstructed oceanic climate conditions from...

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