Interesting New Paper on the Great Divergence

9 12 2013

Accounting for the great divergence” by  Stephen Broadberry

Abstract:

As a result of recent work on historical national accounting, it is now possible to establish firmly the timing of the Great Divergence of living standards between Europe and Asia. There was a European Little Divergence as Britain and Holland overtook Italy and Spain, and an Asian Little Divergence as Japan overtook China and India. The Great Divergence occurred because Japan grew more slowly than Britain and Holland, starting from a lower level. Key turning points are identified around 1348 and 1500, and an explanatory framework is developed that can explain these divergences via the differential impact of shocks on differently structured economies. The key shocks were the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century and the new trade routes which opened up from Europe to Asia and the Americas at the end of the fifteenth century. The key structural factors were the type of agriculture, the age of first marriage of females, the flexibility of labour supply and the nature of state institutions.