Introduction to the Research Project

In 1990 the Dutch Science Foundation granted Prof.dr J.L. van Zanden a subsidy for the research programme "Reconstructing National Accounts of the Netherlands and the analysis of the development of the Dutch Economy in the period 1800-1940". From then onwards this programme resulted in a great number of articles and dissertations which provide a deeper understanding the the dynamics of long-term economic growth. To reconstruct national income extensive data concerning income, prices, foreign trade, production, employment and capital formation were collected and processed.

The calculations of output were the starting point of the project. Initially the research was focussed on the estimations of value added in agriculture, industry and services. Major research was undertaken to reconstruct the movement of output, inputs and prices in various sectors of the economy. The work on capital formation has been equal importance. Other categories of expenditure were estimated either directly from primary source material (e.g. government expenditure) or indirect by combining data on output and foreign trade (private consumer expenditure). The income side of the accounting system was the object of two separate projects, one on wages, salaries and income inequality and another on income from capital. See the research publication Dutch GNP and its components, 1800-1913, for a description of the National Account Project (in pfd, 763 KB).

This dataset enables us to analyse the determinants of long-term economic growth in a better way than that was possible so-far. The central theme of the analysis is the nature of economic growth and the process of modernisation. By presenting the results in an international perspective the specific characteristics of the Dutch economy can be discerned.

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