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The early modern great divergence: wages, prices and economic development in Europe and Asia, 1500–1800

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  • STEPHEN BROADBERRY
  • BISHNUPRIYA GUPTA

Abstract

Contrary to the claims of Pomeranz, Parthasarathi, and other ‘world historians’, the prosperous parts of Asia between 1500 and 1800 look similar to the stagnating southern, central, and eastern parts of Europe rather than the developing north‐western parts. In the advanced parts of India and China, grain wages were comparable to those in north‐western Europe, but silver wages, which conferred purchasing power over tradable goods and services, were substantially lower. The high silver wages of north‐western Europe were not simply a monetary phenomenon, but reflected high productivity in the tradable sector. The ‘great divergence’ between Europe and Asia was already well underway before 1800.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Broadberry & Bishnupriya Gupta, 2006. "The early modern great divergence: wages, prices and economic development in Europe and Asia, 1500–1800," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(1), pages 2-31, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:59:y:2006:i:1:p:2-31
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2005.00331.x
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    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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