Market size is claimed by various
economic traditions to be an important factor in explaining the transition to
modern economic growth. This paper examines whether differences in market size
might explain the retardation of the Industrial Revolution in France. It uses an exceptional
source on French domestic trade in a variety of goods in the late eighteenth
century: the Tableaux du Maximum. The first part presents this source
and the data. The second part assesses whether the data are plausible using a logit theoretical gravity equation. The third part uses the
results of this gravity equation to compute the expected market size of
specific supply centres. For all types of high
value-to-weight goods, some French supply centres
reached 25 million people or more. For all types of textile groups, some French
supply centres reached 20 million people or more.
Even taking into account differences in real, nominal and disposable income per
capita, these supply centres had access to domestic
markets that were at least as large as the whole of Britain. Differences in the size of
foreign markets were too small to reverse that result.
JEL Code: F15, N73.