Lecture 10 - The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth A...

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The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis Lecture 10 James A. Robinson Harvard October 14, 2009 James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis October 14, 2009 1 / 19
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Meanwhile in Asia... Britain and Europe started to grow rapidly and become much more advanced technologically than most of the rest of the world. North America soon followed. In the lecture on Africa I started to describe how other parts of the world were characterized by extractive institutions which were designed to generate a lot of rents for politically powerful groups in society, but which did not lead to economic progress for the society. Let me focus on the development of institutions in East Asia. Another big source of extractive institutions comes from European colonialism. Once European powers became strong they colonized and invaded other countries, usually organizing institutions to extract rents for a small group of Europeans. Often places which had extractive institutions initially, being poor, were very vulnerable to colonialism, so that extractive institutions persisted. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis October 14, 2009 2 / 19
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The Paradox of Chinese Development China was almost certainly as or more advanced than Europe in the middle ages. Mokyr (1990, Chapter 9) lists many of the ways in which China was more technologically advanced than Europe. Paper and paper money (1,000 years before Europe), printing, gunpowder were all invented °rst in China. The compass was invented in 960AD (In Europe it was not until about 1300 that a proper compass emerged). Blast furnaces and casting of iron dates to 200BC but arrived in Europe in the late 14th century. The spinning wheel arrived at about the same time in the 13th century. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis October 14, 2009 3 / 19
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Su Sung water clock from 1086AD “Chinese water clocks ... far exceeded in mechanical complexity, mastery of materials And mechanism, and accuracy of measurements anything that Europe had to offers circa 1100AD” Joel Mokyr (1990, p. 215).
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The Kangnido map was made in Korea from Chinese source material in 1402
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Kangnido map details
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Stasis A lot of consensus that after 1400 China became technologically undynamic and there are even examples of technologies which were forgotten (such as iron smelting, see Mokyr±s chapter 9). By the early 19th century it was clear that China was far behind Western Europe technologically and this had profound consequences, e.g. the Opium Wars of 1839-1842. Since at least the British writer Gibbon in the late 18th century, people have speculated about why China went into relative (possibly absolute) decline and why it did not experience the industrial revolution °rst. Max Weber started the modern literature, contrasting Protestantism with Chinese religious beliefs ( The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism , published in 1915).
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