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Unformatted text preview: The First Modern Economy, p.61. Literacy was very high amongst the (Calvinist) Dutch Source: de Vries, Jan and Ad van der Woude (1997) The First Modern Economy, p. 171. Source: de Vries, Jan and Ad van der Woude (1997) The First Modern Economy, p.51. Dutch real wages grew as population expanded
25 London 20 Antwerp 15 Krakow 10 Vienna 5
1375 1425 1475 1525 1575 1625 1675 1725 1775 1825
half century centred at date Florence Source: Allen, Robert C. (2001) The Great Divergence in European Wages and
Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War, Explorations in Economic History, 38, 411-447. But after getting very high, income per-capita stagnated for 200 years Source: de Vries, Jan and Ad van der Woude (1997) The First Modern Economy, p. 707. Political Organization
The Netherlands was a republic governed by an aristocracy of
city-merchants called the regents (regenten).
Every city and province had its own government and laws, and a large
degree of autonomy.
After attempts to …nd a competent sovereign proved unsuccessful, it
was decided that sovereignty would be vested in the various provincial
Estates (Staten), the governing bodies of the provinces.
The Estates-General (Staten-Generaal ), with its representatives from
all the provinces, would decide on matters important to the Republic
as a whole.
However, at the head of each province was the stadtholder
(Stadhouder ) of that province, a position held by a descendant of the
House of Orange. Usually the stadtholdership of several provinces was
held by a single man.
It was only after 1815 that the Dutch acquired a royal family.
James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis8
October 7, 2009
5/ The Dutch Revolt
In 1572 the Dutch states revolted against the Habsburgs and this
initiated a long almost 80 years war which was only settled at the
Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
This issued in a period of rapid economic growth. For instance,
urbanization increased dramatically.
However, after 1648 the Netherlands stagnated.
The Netherlands became highly indebted as a result of …ghting for its
independence. Taxes were raised very high.
In 1651 the British imposed the Navigation Acts and after this in a
series of wars seriously damaged Dutch commercial interests which
had been the basis for its prosperity. British took over the ‘
asiento’monopoly to supply slaves to Spanish colonies. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis8
October 7, 2009
6/ The World as a Polder In his recent book Collapse Jared Diamond (2005) Chapter 16 “The
World as a Polder” proposes the following idea:
Societies do not work well when the elite can isolate themselves from
the consequences of their actions and therefore do not need to
provide public goods. In the Netherlands the inundations by the Sea
required that everyone, poor and rich alike had to work together to
provide public goods or drown. This created a relatively egalitarian
society which was able to make socia...
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- Fall '09