Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories

Contents:

Author Info

  • McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Britain was first, though the classical (and many of the neoclassical) economists did not recognize that its course was beginning the factor of 16. The slow British growth in the 18th century proposed by Crafts and Harley is unbelievable, but however one assigns growth within the period 1700-1900 it is now plain that something unprecedented was happening. Only non-economists recognized it at the time. The central puzzle is why innovation did not fizzle out, as Mokyr has put it---as it had at other times and places. Productivity in cotton textiles, for example, grew at computer-industry rates, and continued to into the 20th century. But Europe’s lead was not permanent. The California School of Pomeranz and Goldstone and Allen and others have shown that China led the West in 1500, and maybe as late as 1750, then fell dramatically behind. It was the continuation of European growth in the 19th and 20th centuries that is strange and new. Explaining the Great Divergence requires focusing on non-European events in the 19th century---not some deep-seated European cultural superiority. On the other hand, Europe’s fragmented polity was an advantage, as shown in the swift uptake of the printing press. The way that non-European places like Japan or Botswana or India have been able to grow demonstrates that the stage theories popular in European thought from the 18th century to the present (for example, in modern growth theory) are mistaken. The metaphors of biological stages or human foot races are inapt, as in the business-school talk of “competitiveness” nowadays. The “rise” of non-European economies does not presage a “decline” or Europe or its offshoots, merely a borrowing of social and engineering technologies such as Europe once borrowed from elsewhere. The dignity and liberty of ordinary people stands in the middle of such “technologies.”

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/18291/
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 18291.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: 09 Jul 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:18291

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
    Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
    Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
    Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords: industrial revolution; economic history; growth theory; productivity; Britain; China; non-European economies;

    Find related papers by JEL classification:

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2008. "Biological Innovation and Productivity Growth in the Antebellum Cotton Economy," NBER Working Papers 14142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nicholas Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002. "Precocious British industrialization: a general equilibrium perspective," Economic History Working Papers 22368, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    3. Persky, Joseph, 1990. "A Dismal Romantic," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 165-72, Fall.
    4. Maxine Berg & Pat Hudson, 1994. "Growth and change: a comment on the Crafts-Harley view of the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 47(1), pages 147-149, 02.
    5. Temin, Peter, 2000. "A Response to Harley and Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 842-846, September.
    6. Temin, Peter, 2000. "A Response to Harley and Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 842-846, September.
    7. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli & Jared Rubin, 2009. "Guns and Books: Legitimacy, Revolt and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2009-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    8. Knick Harley, C., 1980. "Transportation, the world wheat trade, and the Kuznets Cycle, 1850-1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 218-250, July.
    9. Allen, Robert C., 1992. "Enclosure and the Yeoman: The Agricultural Development of the South Midlands 1450-1850," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198282969.
    10. Broadberry, Stephen N. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2006. "Labor productivity in the United States and the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 257-279, April.
    11. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
    12. Olmstead,Alan L. & Rhode,Paul W., 2008. "Creating Abundance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521857116, November.
    13. Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 1-17, March.
    14. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:18291. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.