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How well did facts travel to support protracted debate on the history of the Great Divergence between Western Europe and Imperial China?

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  • Deng, Kent
  • O'Brien, Patrick

Abstract

With the ongoing debate of the Great Divergence since 2000, a wide range of works have been published to compare economic performance of Western Europe with that of China. The upsurge in the divergence scholarship has however been dogged by an issue of reliability and compatibility of ‘facts’. A reason is that non-Chinese speaking academics tend to accept stylised facts from Chinese sources too readily without checking, which makes, more often than not, the Chinese part of the story a liability rather than an asset. We here challenge that well-circulated notion that ‘any number is better than no number’: No number does not make any number right.

Suggested Citation

  • Deng, Kent & O'Brien, Patrick, 2017. "How well did facts travel to support protracted debate on the history of the Great Divergence between Western Europe and Imperial China?," Economic History Working Papers 69923, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:69923
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great Divergence; information quality; information reliability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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