West versus Far East: early globalization and the great divergence
This paper addresses two important topics in recent economic historiography: globalization and the great divergence. We first present a search for statistical evidence in the Far East of an “Early Globalization” comparable to the one ongoing in the West since the mid-eighteenth century. Moreover, we analyze the extent of the integration of rice markets in Central southeast China and Japan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its functioning in comparison with Western countries. Finally, the relevance of our findings for the debate on the great divergence is discussed. Our primary conclusions are as follows: (1) in contrast to the West, no international integration of the grain markets existed in the Far East during the Early Modern Era; (2) significant levels of domestic market integration were reached in some Far Eastern countries; (3) integration of the domestic grain markets may be reached through various combinations of agents and policies with dissimilar effects on long-run economic growth, which are better in the West and worse in the Far East. We suggest that the absence of an “Early Globalization” in the Far East reveals the existence of certain economic and institutional limitations in this part of the world that may have made contribution to its “Great Divergence” with the West from at least the eighteenth century.
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Volume (Year): 9 (2015)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
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