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The Rise and Fall of Exceptional Australian Incomes Since 1800


Australian Economic History Review

Published online on


We gauge how productivity and factor endowments shaped the rise and fall of Australia's exceptional incomes using new measures of total factor productivity (TFP), which include natural resource inputs, in an accounting of income growth. Further, we explore the drivers of TFP growth. Pastoralism and mining had negative TFP externalities, and we incorporate these findings into a unified accounting of incomes, which distinguishes the roles of endowments and productivity. Nevertheless, TFP growth played an important role in promoting exceptional incomes between 1842 and 1890. Our findings favour a more balanced interpretation of Australian growth that has roles for natural resources, labour participation, and productivity.