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Accounting for the “Little Divergence”: What drove economic growth in pre-industrial Europe, 1300–1800?

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  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

Abstract

We test various hypotheses about the causes of the Little Divergence, using new data and focusing on trends in GDP per capita and urbanization. We find evidence that confirms the hypothesis that human capital formation was the driver of growth, and that institutional changes (in particular the rise of active Parliaments) were closely related to economic growth. We also test for the role of religion (the spread of Protestantism): this has affected human capital formation, but does not in itself have an impact on growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexandra M. de Pleijt & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2016. "Accounting for the “Little Divergence”: What drove economic growth in pre-industrial Europe, 1300–1800?," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(4), pages 387-409.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ereveh:v:20:y:2016:i:4:p:387-409.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Guilland Carmichael & Alexandra de Pleijt & Jan Luiten van Zanden & Tine De Moor, 2015. "Reply to Tracy Dennison and Sheilagh Ogilvie: The European Marriage pattern and the Little Divergence," Working Papers 0070, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    2. David Le Bris & William N. Goetzmann & Sébastien Pouget, 2015. "The Development of Corporate Governance in Toulouse: 1372-1946," NBER Working Papers 21335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ekaterina Khaustova & Paul Sharp, 2015. "A Note on Danish Living Standards through Historical Wage Series, 1731-1913," Working Papers 0081, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    4. Alexandra M. de Pleijt & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2018. "Two Worlds of Female Labour: Gender Wage Inequality in Western Europe, 1300-1800," Working Papers 0138, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. BASSINO, Jean-Pascal & van der ENG, Pierre, 2016. "Asia's 'Little Divergence' in the 20th Century: Evidence from PPP-based direct estimates of GDP per capita, 1913-1969," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-28, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. Baten, Jörg & de Pleijt, Alexandra, 2018. "Female autonomy generates superstars in long-term development: Evidence from 15th to 19th century Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 13348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. repec:eee:exehis:v:70:y:2018:i:c:p:91-131 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Guido Alfani & Wouter Ryckbosch, 2015. "Was there a ‘Little Convergence’ in inequality? Italy and the Low Countries compared, ca. 1500-1800," Working Papers 557, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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