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Asia's 'Little Divergence' in the 20th Century: Evidence from PPP-based direct estimates of GDP per capita, 1913-1969

Listed author(s):
  • BASSINO, Jean-Pascal
  • ENG, Pierre van der

This paper uses expenditure-based PPPs to create direct estimates of GDP per capita for 12 Asian countries in comparable prices for six benchmark years during 1913-1969. The paper finds that levels of real GDP per capita were in several countries comparable to those in Japan in 1913. GDP per capita of Japan and other Asian countries diverged during and after World War I. The paper questions whether Asia's 'little divergence' between Japan and other Asian countries dates back to the late-18th century. It draws attention to the different resource endowments of Japan, China and India compared to other Asian countries, and their implications for the development trajectories of Asian countries. The paper also demonstrates that using historical PPP estimates yields estimates of GDP per capita that diverge from those based on retropolations of the single 1990 PPP-converted benchmark year. It concludes that historical estimates of PPPs are needed to confirm analyses of comparative economic performance based on GDP per capita data.

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File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/27945/1/070_hiasDP-E-28.pdf
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Paper provided by Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University in its series Discussion paper series with number HIAS-E-28.

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Length: 60 p.
Date of creation: 31 May 2016
Handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-28
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  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.
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  16. Pierre van der Eng, 2004. "Productivity and Comparative Advantage in Rice Agriculture in South-East Asia Since 1870 ," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 345-370, December.
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