Log in to access the full article.
Summary There has been a long-standing debate about French nineteenth-century economic growth. After 1945 the ‘retardation–stagnation’ thesis dominated. From the 1960s ‘revisionists’ painted a more optimistic view. Recently, ‘anti-revisionism’ has revived gloomy ideas. New research has been primarily responsible for changes of view. National income estimates, and later cliometric studies, bolstered the revisionist argument. Work on the ‘great depression’ stimulated anti-revisionism. Scholars have also been influenced by the economic and political state of France at the time they were writing and the debate has been somewhat politicized. The article ends by surveying the ‘moderate revisionism’ which now prevails.