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Growing, Shrinking and Long Run Economic Performance: Historical Perspectives on Economic Development

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  • Broadberry, Stephen N
  • Wallis, John

Abstract

Using annual data from the thirteenth century to the present, we show that improved long run economic performance has occurred primarily through a decline in the rate and frequency of shrinking, rather than through an increase in the rate of growing. Indeed, as economic performance has improved over time, the short run rate of growing has typically declined rather than increased. Most analysis of the process of economic development has hitherto focused on increasing the rate of growing. Here, we focus on understanding the forces making for a reduction in the rate of shrinking, drawing a distinction between proximate and ultimate factors. The main proximate factors considered are (1) structural change (2) technological change (3) demographic change and (4) the changing incidence of warfare. We conclude with a consideration of institutional change as the key ultimate factor behind the reduction in shrinking.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen N & Wallis, John, 2017. "Growing, Shrinking and Long Run Economic Performance: Historical Perspectives on Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 11973, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11973
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O0 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - General
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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