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Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe

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  • Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent

    (California Institute of Technology)

  • Wong, R. Bin

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

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    Abstract

    China has reemerged as a powerhouse in the global economy, reviving a classic question in economic history: why did sustained economic growth arise in Europe rather than in China? Many favor cultural and environmental explanations of the nineteenth-century economic divergence between Europe and the rest of the world. This book, the product of over twenty years of research, takes a sharply different tack. It argues that political differences which crystallized well before 1800 were responsible both for China’s early and more recent prosperity and for Europe’s difficulties after the fall of the Roman Empire and during early industrialization. Rosenthal and Wong show that relative prices matter to how economies evolve; institutions can have a large effect on relative prices; and the spatial scale of polities can affect the choices of institutions in the long run. Their historical perspective on institutional change has surprising implications for understanding modern transformations in China and Europe and for future expectations. It also yields insights in comparative economic history, essential to any larger social science account of modern world history.

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This book is provided by Harvard University Press in its series Economics Books with number 9780674057913 and published in 2011.

    ISBN: 9780674057913
    Handle: RePEc:hup:pbooks:9780674057913

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    Web page: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/

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    Cited by:
    1. Masahiko Aoki, 2011. "The Five-Phases of Economic Development and Institutional Evolution in China and Japan," Development Economics Working Papers 23196, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    2. Avner Greif & Guido Tabellini, 2012. "The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe," Working Papers 445, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    3. Seven Agir, 2011. "The Evolution of Grain Policy Beyond Europe: Ottoman Grain Administration in the Late Eighteenth Century," Working Papers 999, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    4. Yang, Helen, 2012. "Dual Landownership as Tax Shelter: How Did the Chinese Solve Ricardo's Problem?," MPRA Paper 42689, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Aoki, Masahiko, 2012. "The Five-Phases of Economic Development and Institutional Evolution in China and Japan," ADBI Working Papers 340, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    6. Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2012. "From divergence to convergence: re-evaluating the history behind China’s economic boom," Economic History Working Papers 41660, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    7. Sng, Tuan-Hwee & Moriguchi, Chiaki, 2013. "Taxation and Public Goods Provision in China and Japan before 1850," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 35, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    8. Haiwen Zhou, 2011. "Confucianism and the Legalism: A model of the national strategy of governance in ancient China," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 616-637, December.
    9. Aoki, Masahiko, 2012. "Historical Sources of Institutional Trajectories in Economic Development: China, Japan, and Korea Compared," ADBI Working Papers 397, Asian Development Bank Institute.

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