Does trade explain Europe’s rise? Geography, market size and economic development
This paper tests whether the so-called ‘reach of the market’ helps to explain ‘why Europe’ and ‘why north-western Europe’. By looking at grain markets from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century, this study concludes that the process of commodity market integration pre-dated the take-off in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, so it was neither a concomitant nor an effect of the Industrial Revolution, but indeed a plausible determinant for the rise of Europe. When looking at differences within Europe, it finds that in terms of economic integration, there were two distinct zones in early modern Europe – landlocked and lowland Europe. In the latter, markets clearly extended to much bigger geographical areas before the arrival of steam transportation and the creation of extensive road networks, which can be explained by physical geography that had endowed lowland Europe with easier and cheaper transportation.
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