Nutrition and Economic Development in the Eighteenth-Century Habsburg Monarchy
John Komlos examines the industrial expansion of Austria from a fresh viewpoint and develops a new model for the industrial revolution. By integrating recent advances in the study of human biology and nutrition as they relate to physical stature, population growth, and levels of economic development, he reveals an intense Malthusian crisis in the Habsburg lands during the second half of the eighteenth century. At that time food shortages brought about by the accelerated population growth of the 1730s forced the government to adopt a reform program that opened the way for the beginning of the industrial revolution in Austria and in the Czech Crownlands. Comparing this "Austrian model" of economic growth to the industrial revolution in Britain, Komlos argues that the model is general enough to explain demographic and economic growth elsewhere in Europe--despite obvious regional differences. The main feature of the model is the interplay between a persistent, even if small, tendency to accumulate capital and a population with an underlying tendency to grow in numbers while remaining subject to Malthusian checks, particularly a limited availability of food. According to Komlos, modern economic growth in Europe began when the food constraint was finally lifted.
Originally published in 1989.
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