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Economic Conditions in Early Modern Bengal: A Contribution to the Divergence Debate

  • Roy, Tirthankar

The paper contributes to the debate on relative levels of living in the early modern world by estimating the income of and probable range of income growth in Bengal before European colonization. The exercise yields two conclusions, (a) average income in Bengal was significantly smaller than that in contemporary Western Europe, and (b) there is insufficient basis to infer either growth or decline in average income in the 50 years before colonization and the century after. The former conclusion is relevant to the discussion on the origins of international economic inequality, or ‘divergence’, and the latter is relevant to the scholarship that considers the economic effects of colonialism.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7522.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7522
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  1. Roy, Tirthankar, 2006. "The Economic History of India 1857-1947," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780195684308.
  2. Broadberry, Stephen N & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2005. "The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800," CEPR Discussion Papers 4947, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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