Accounting for the wealth of Denmark: a case study of Smithian growth using the emergence of modern accounting in Danish dairying

Markus Lampe, Paul Sharp

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The idea of “Smithian growth” rests on a “natural” development out of agriculture through capital accumulation, and the division of labour. We confront these concepts with an “historical experiment” and the case of Danish agriculture in the nineteenth century. Specifically, we look at how accounting was used to promote specialization, ultimately in butter production, leading to the massive increases in productivity that Smith predicted. We also observe the emergence of Smithian “philosophers”. This ultimately led to the capital-intensive industrialization of Danish agriculture through butter factories, and general development. We argue that this establishes the historical relevance of Smith’s theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659 - 697
JournalEuropean Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502
  • 502047 Economic theory
  • 502049 Economic history

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