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The great escape? The contribution of the empire to Portugal’s economic growth, 1500-1800

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  • Leonor Freire Costa

    ()

  • Nuno Palma

    ()

  • Jaime Reis

    ()

Abstract

Newly assembled macroeconomic statistics for early modern Portugal reveal one of Europe’s most vigorous colonial traders and at the same time one of its least successful growth records. Using an estimated model in the spirit of Allen (2009) we conclude that intercontinental trade had a substantial and increasingly positive impact on economic growth. In the heyday of colonial expansion, eliminating the economic links to empire would have reduced Portugal’s per capita income by roughly a fifth. While the empire helped the domestic economy it was not sufficient to annul the tendency towards decline in relation to Europe’s advanced core which set in from the 17th century onwards. We conclude that the explanation for Portugal’s long-term backwardness must be sought primarily in domestic conditions

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Paper provided by Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones in its series Working Papers in Economic History with number wp13-07.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp13-07

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Keywords: The European Little Divergence ; Early Modern Economic Growth ; Economics of Empires;

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  1. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  2. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," Trinity Economics Papers, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics tep0107, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  3. Allen, Robert C. & Murphy, Tommy E. & Schneider, Eric B., 2012. "The Colonial Origins of the Divergence in the Americas: A Labor Market Approach," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(04), pages 863-894, December.
  4. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/684 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 4274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert C. Allen, 2003. "Progress and poverty in early modern Europe," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 403-443, 08.
  7. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
  8. Patrick O'Brien, 1982. "European Economic Development: The Contribution of the Periphery," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, Economic History Society, vol. 35(1), pages 1-18, 02.
  9. Guillaume Daudin, 2006. "Profits du commerce intercontinental et croissance dans la France du xviiie siècle," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 57(3), pages 605-613.
  10. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521687850.
  11. Guillaume Daudin, 2006. "Profits du commerce international et croissance de la France au XVIIIe siècle," Sciences Po publications, Sciences Po info:hdl:2441/684, Sciences Po.
  12. Rei, Claudia, 2011. "The organization of Eastern merchant empires," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 116-135, January.
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