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Lecture 1 - The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth A...

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The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis Lecture 1 James A. Robinson Harvard September 2, 2009 James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 2, 2009 1 / 19
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Themes and Issues The focus of this course is in trying to understand the pattern of world development in the long-run, starting with the Neolithic Revolution around 10,000 years ago. The most dramatic fact is the relative evolution of income per-capita vividly portrayed in the data by Maddison shown on the next slide. When I was a (British, and worse British Empire) schoolboy we used to just call this the industrial revolution but now we call it the Great Divergence. This terminology re°ects a signi±cant shift in emphasis away from explaining why the industrial revolution happened to why the technologies and methods of organization it generated di/used so unevenly across the world. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 2, 2009 2 / 19
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Per-capita GDP (Maddison) The Great Divergence 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 1 1000 1500 1600 1700 1820 1870 1913 1950 1973 2001 Western Europe United States Eastern Europe Latin America China India Japan Africa United Kingdom
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Up to 1870 0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 1 1000 1500 1600 1700 1820 1870 Western Europe United States Eastern Europe Latin America China India Japan Africa United Kingdom
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Relative Prosperity in 1500 (Maddison, 1990 dollars) 500 Japan 550 India 600 China 400 United States 425 Mexico 761 Netherlands 875 Belgium 661 Spain 1,100 Italy 714 UK 566 World Average GDP per-capita in 1500
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Where do these Numbers Come from? Where did 400 come from for the US? Maddison assumes that incomes less than 400 cannot sustain life and so he assigns this to the most ²primitive civilizations.³ Mexico 425? More developed than the US, we know rates or urbanization were higher and the Mexicas and related tribes were more centralized. This is a guess. Italy? Here we works backwards from 1800 where there are decent estimates and argues that the average growth rate was zero which is consistent with a lot of what we know. UK? Large literature starting from Gregory King in 1696 estimating national income. Very credible numbers for 1700 and afterwards from Crafts and Harley, Maddison uses their growth rate 1700-1801 (0.28% per year) and projects this backwards from the 1700 number. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis September 2, 2009 3 / 19
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Van Zanden, Jan Luiten (2003) “Rich and Poor before the Industrial Revolution: A Comparison between Java And The Netherlands,” Explorations in Economic History,” 40, 1-23.
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Ian Morris´Index of Social Development Ian Morris has developed an even more audacious approach to historical measurement. In his forthcoming book Why the West is Ahead - For Now he uses historical and archaeological evidence on four traits to build a historical index of social development. Each trait can score a maximum of 250 points and he uses contemporary data to normalize past data.
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