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From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500

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  • Kevin H. O'Rourke
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

A recent endogenous growth literature has focused on the transition from a Malthusian world where real wages were linked to factor endowments, to one where modern growth has broken that link. In this paper we present evidence on another, related phenomenon: the dramatic reversal in distributional trends -- from a steep secular fall to a steep secular rise in wage-land rent ratios -- which occurred some time early in the 19th century. What explains this reversal? While it may seem logical to locate the causes in the Industrial Revolutionary forces emphasized by endogenous growth theorists, we provide evidence that something else mattered just as much: the opening up of the European economy to international trade.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8955.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Publication status: published as O'Rourke, Kevin and Jeffrey G. Williamson “From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500." Journal of Economic Growth 10, 1 (January 2005): 5-34.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8955

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  1. O'Rourke, Kevin H & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2001. "After Columbus: Explaining the Global Trade Boom 1500-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 2809, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. Vladimir Popov, 2009. "Why the West Became Rich before China and Why China Has Been Catching Up with the West since 1949: nother Explanation of the “Great Divergence” and “Great Convergence” Stories," Working Papers w0132, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  2. Popov, Vladimir, 2010. "Development theories and development experience: half a century journey," MPRA Paper 28111, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. James A. Robinson, 2006. "Equity, Institutions and the Development Process," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 32, pages 17-50.
  4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2006. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 43-70, 03.
  5. Sharp, Paul & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2013. "Globalization revisited: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the eighteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 88-98.
  6. Chor, Davin, 2005. "Institutions, wages, and inequality: The case of Europe and its periphery (1500-1899)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 547-566, October.

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