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Why Was It Europeans Who Conquered the World?




By the 1700s Europeans dominated the gunpowder technology, which was surprising, because it had originated in China and been used with expertise throughout Eurasia. To account for their dominance, historians have invoked competition, but it cannot explain why they pushed this technology further than anyone else. The answer lies with a simple tournament model of military competition that allows for learning by doing. Political incentives and military conditions then explain why the rest of Eurasia fell behind Europeans in developing the gunpowder technology. The consequences were huge, from colonialism to the slave trade and even the Industrial Revolution.

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  • Hoffman, Philip T., 2012. "Why Was It Europeans Who Conquered the World?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 601-633, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:72:y:2012:i:03:p:601-633_00

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emanuel Kohlscheen, 2010. "Sovereign risk: constitutions rule," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 62-85, January.
    2. Dan Bogart, 2011. "Did the Glorious Revolution contribute to the transport revolution? Evidence from investment in roads and rivers," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(4), pages 1073-1112, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2014. "Population, technology and fragmentation: The European miracle revisited," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 87-105.
    2. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China; Divided Europe," MPRA Paper 60418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mark Dincecco & Mauricio Prado, 2012. "Warfare, fiscal capacity, and performance," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 171-203, September.
    4. Corchón, Luis C. & Yıldızparlak, Anıl, 2013. "Give peace a chance: The effect of ownership and asymmetric information on peace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 116-126.
    5. Dincecco, Mark & Katz, Gabriel, 2012. "State Capacity and Long-Run Performance," MPRA Paper 38299, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Teaching to the tests: An economic analysis of traditional and modern education in late imperial and republican China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 70-90.
    7. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China and Divided Europe," CEI Working Paper Series 2014-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

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