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Explaining the Great Divergence: Medium and Message on the Eurasian Land Mass, 1700-1850

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  • DUDLEY, Leonard

Abstract

Between 1700 and 1850, per-capita income doubled in Europe while falling in the rest of Eurasia. Neither geography nor economic institutions can explain this sudden divergence. Here the consequences of differences in communications technology are examined. For the first time, there appeared in Europe a combination of a standardized medium (national vernaculars with a phonetic alphabet) and a non-standardized message (competing religious, political and scientific ideas). The result was an unprecedented fall in the cost of combining ideas and burst of productivity-raising innovation. Elsewhere, decreasing standardization of the medium and increasing standardization of the message blocked innovation.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1866/506
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 2003-19.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:2003-19

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  1. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Recombinant Growth," Scholarly Articles 3708468, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Dudley, L., 1996. "The Rationality of Revolution," Cahiers de recherche 9619, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  3. Holler, Manfred J. & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1996. "The economics of standardization: Introduction and overview," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 177-182, September.
  4. JEAN-MICHEL Josselin & ALAIN Marciano, 1997. "The Paradox of Leviathan: How to Develop and Contain the Future European State?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-22, January.
  5. Deepak Lal, 2001. "Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262621541, December.
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