Decline Relative and Absolute, 1713–1740
There is general agreement that Dutch bulk carrying, or at least Baltic bulk freightage, did a great deal better than was once supposed and that serious collapse occurred only in the industrial sector, or at any rate parts of it. One view, and perhaps still the most influential, propounded by Johan de Vries was that there was no Dutch economic decline in ‘absolute terms’ before 1780, but only a process of ‘relative decline’ whereby the Dutch, failing to keep place with expansion elsewhere, were left with a shrinking share of trade and shipping. More recently, Jan de Vries has argued that the Dutch economy did in fact suffer serious decline from around 1670 down to the middle of the eighteenth century but recovered strongly after 1750. Still other historians, looking at levels of employment and per capita income, are inclined to the view that the Dutch economy did not decline at any stage.
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