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Patterns of growth and stagnation in the late nineteenth century Habsburg economy

By Max-Stephan Schulze


This article addresses two issues that feature prominently in the recent historiography. First, how does the Habsburg Empire's economic performance compare to the record for other European economies in terms of levels and growth of national income? Second, to what extent was the Austrian economy subject to prolonged stagnation after 1873? These questions are examined on the basis of new annual estimates of GDP for Austria and Hungary for 1870 to 1913. The article argues, first, that over the whole period under review Austrian per capita income failed to expand at a pace broadly commensurate with the country's relative income position. The Austrian economy did not catch up with the leaders and failed to keep pace with other ‘followers’. Second, the Hungarian economy recorded a markedly higher rate of per capita income growth, placing it about mid-range in a European growth comparison. Third, the new evidence supports the notion of a ‘great depression’ in the western half of the empire (Austria) after 1873. The distinct periodicity and differential rates of Austrian and Hungarian growth are consistent with the argument that the outflow of Austrian capital to Hungary after the 1873 Vienna stock market crash was crucial in prolonging economic stagnation in Austria, whilst fuelling the first widespread wave of industrialisation in Hungary. The reversal of this capital outflow in the early 1890s was associated with an increase in Austrian economic growth and a decrease in Hungary's rate of expansion

Topics: HC Economic History and Conditions
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2000
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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