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

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  • Roy, Tirthankar

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Roy, Tirthankar, 2009. "Economic Conditions in Early Modern Bengal: A Contribution to the Divergence Debate," CEPR Discussion Papers 7522, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7522
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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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    Cited by:

    1. Broadberry, Stephen & Custodis, Johann & Gupta, Bishnupriya, 2015. "India and the great divergence: An Anglo-Indian comparison of GDP per capita, 1600–1871," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 58-75.
    2. Broadberry, Stephen; Gupta, 2010. "Indian GDP, 1600 -1870: Some Preliminary Estimates Comparison with Britain," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 07, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Broadberry, Stephen, 2013. "Accounting for the great divergence," Economic History Working Papers 54573, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    4. Peter H. Lindert, 2016. "Purchasing Power Disparity before 1914," NBER Working Papers 22896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jutta Bolt & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2014. "The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 627-651, August.
    6. Tirthankar Roy, 2012. "Consumption Of Cotton Cloth In India, 1795–1940," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 52(1), pages 61-84, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Colonial India; Comparative development; National income;

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East

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