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Industrial Growth (1870-1914)

A short, speculative boom fueled by the euphoria over the defeat of France and the prospects of a unified marketplace followed German unification in 1871. German industrialization, however, first gathered force in the 1890s and increased dramatically in the years leading up to the First World War. On the whole, industrial production increased fivefold in the years between 1870 and 1914.

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Index* of Industrial Growth

* The index numbers by [Rolf] Wagenführ (pp. 58-61) for mining and the individual sectors of industry, which are not provided here, differ considerably from those calculated by Hoffmann, Das Wachstum der deutschen Wirtschaft [The Growth of the German Economy] pp. 335-95 – particularly due to the different weighting. However, the variations of the figures pertaining to total output are minimal and derive largely from the fact that in contrast to Wagenführ, Hoffmann excludes mining and salt works from his table of total output in industry and the trades (p. 390).

The overall index of production in industry and the trades outlined here represents a summary of separate indices concerning individual branches calculated by using the statistical method of index number formation. This method entails setting the values of the reference year (in this case 1913) at 100. The source materials were data on production statistics (quantities), estimates, or values adjusted to price. Cf. Wagenführ, Die Industriewirtschaft [The Industrial Economy], p. 47.

The essential point is not that all branches are taken into consideration but that the selection affords a high representative value. Although Hoffmann (p. 395f.) criticizes Wagenführ’s index series, he nevertheless observes a substantial level of agreement with his own estimates if mining is disregarded; however, since Wagenführ, on the other hand, did consider mining in his overall series, the latter was more suitable for the purpose at hand.

Source: The curve is based on index numbers in Rolf Wagenführ, “Die Industriewirtschaft. Entwicklungstendenzen der deutschen und internationalen Industrieproduktion 1860 bis 1932” [“The Industrial Economy. Development Trends in German and International Industrial Production 1860 to 1932”], in Vierteljahreshefte zur Konjunkturforschung. Sonderheft 31, Berlin 1933, p. 58.

Published in Gerd Hohorst, Jürgen Kocka und Gerhard A. Ritter, Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch: Materialien zur Statistik des Kaiserreichs 1870-1914 [Social History Workbook: Materials on Kaiserreich Statistics 1870-1914]. Munich, 1975, 2: p. 78-79.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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