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The Character of growth before 'modern economics growth'? The GDP of Holland between 1347 and 1807


  • Jan Luiten van Zanden
  • Bas van Leeuwen


On the basis of a newly constructed dataset of the national accounts of the province of Holland in the period between 1347 and 1800, we analyze the pattern of growth in this region, which was one of the most prosperous and dynamic parts of the pre modern European economy. We demonstrate that this economy was characterized by almost continuous but highly unstable economic growth caused mainly by exogenous shocks related to international trade and shipping, and harvest fluctuations. The causes of this growth vary over time. Yet, the start of the Golden Age was characterized by the increase of total factor productivity. TFP-growth was an important factor behind growth in the period until the 1620s, was negative during the middle decades of the 17th century, and became positive again after the 1660s. This suggests a surge of technological change during the 1540-1620 period, followed by much more incremental changes in the next two centuries.

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  • Jan Luiten van Zanden & Bas van Leeuwen, 2011. "The Character of growth before 'modern economics growth'? The GDP of Holland between 1347 and 1807," Working Papers 0004, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. BAS J. P. van BAVEL & JAN LUITEN van ZANDEN, 2004. "The jump-start of the Holland economy during the late-medieval crisis, c.1350-c.1500 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(3), pages 503-532, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johan Fourie & Jan Luiten Zanden, 2013. "GDP in the Dutch Cape Colony: The National Accounts of a Slave-Based Society," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 81(4), pages 467-490, December.
    2. Carlos Álvarez-Nogal & Leandro Prados De La Escosura, 2013. "The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850)," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(1), pages 1-37, February.
    3. Koen Deconinck & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2012. "War, Taxes, and Borders:How Beer Created Belgium," LICOS Discussion Papers 30812, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.


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