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Home > Research > Three centuries of macroeconomic data

Three centuries of macroeconomic data

​The three centuries dataset was originally constructed for the purposes of writing the 2010 Q4 Quarterly Bulletin article The UK recession in context — what do three centuries of data tell us?.  It was updated and expanded for the launch of the One Bank Research Agenda in February 2015 and the latest edition of the spreadsheet (version 2.3) has now been updated to 2015.

The spreadsheet is organised into two parts. The first contains a broad set of annual data covering the UK national accounts and other financial and macroeconomic data stretching back in some cases to the late 17th century. The second and third sections cover the available monthly and quarterly data for the UK to facilitate higher frequency analysis on the macroeconomy and the financial system. The spreadsheet attempts to provide continuous historical time series for most variables up to the present day by making various assumptions about how to link the historical components together. But we also have provided the various chains of raw historical data and retained all our calculations in the spreadsheet so that the method of calculating the continuous times series is clear and users can construct their own composite estimates by using different linking procedures.

The spreadsheet is intended to be a shared research resource that will evolve and expand over time. It is hoped it will be of use to students and researchers of the UK's economic history. It also forms the core of the Bank of England's contribution to the British Historical Statistics Project which will update B.R. Mitchell's British Historical Statistics on which large parts of this spreadsheet are based.

These data may aid research on the following One Bank Research Agenda questions:

  • What are the key drivers of time-varying systemic risk? What are the underlying drivers of credit and financial cycles and how do these contribute to systemic risk? What indicators best capture these risks? (Theme 1)
  • What are the stylised facts about repeated, but relatively rare, events, which help us to understand how the economy/financial system works? (Theme 4)
  • To what extent have secular trends and/or policies, primarily changes in inequality and demographics, affected equilibrium rates of interest? Which of these trends has been the key driver? And are these effects likely to be permanent or temporary? (Theme 5)
  • How is the long-run supply capacity of the economy shaped by the financial sector, and by factors of production other than labour and capital?(Theme 5)
Headline series from the spreadsheet are available to view on the Federal Reserve Economic Database (FRED) and can be found under the external links. Additional historical data on the Bank of England's balance sheet and sector financial accounts and balance sheets can be found under the related and external links.