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Income convergence during the disintegration of the world economy, 1919-39

  • Milanovic, Branko

Some economists have argued that the process of disintegration of the world economy between the two world wars led to income divergence between the countries. This is in keeping with the view that economic integration leads to income convergence. The paper shows that the view that the period 1919-39 was associated with divergence of incomes among the rich countries is wrong. On the contrary, income convergence continued and even accelerated. Since the mid-19th century, incomes of rich countries tended to converge in peacetime regardless of whether their economies were more or less integrated. This, in turn, implies that it may not be trade and capital and labor flows that matter for income convergence but some other, less easily observable, forces like diffusion of information and technology.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2941.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2941
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  1. Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Divergence, big time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1522, The World Bank.
  2. Charles I. Jones, . "On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution," Working Papers 97009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Milanovic, Branko, 2003. "The Two Faces of Globalization: Against Globalization as We Know It," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 667-683, April.
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  11. Rodríguez, Francisco & Rodrik, Dani, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Sceptic's Guide to the Cross-National Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2143, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  13. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
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  15. Baumol, William J, 1986. "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-run Data Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1072-85, December.
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  19. Bairoch, Paul, 1989. "The paradoxes of economic history: Economic laws and history," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2-3), pages 225-249, March.
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