Economic Conditions in Early Modern Bengal: A Contribution to the Divergence Debate

31 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Tirthankar Roy

Tirthankar Roy

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

The paper contributes to the debate on relative levels of living in the early modern world by estimating the income of and probable range of income growth in Bengal before European colonization. The exercise yields two conclusions, (a) average income in Bengal was significantly smaller than that in contemporary Western Europe, and (b) there is insufficient basis to infer either growth or decline in average income in the 50 years before colonization and the century after. The former conclusion is relevant to the discussion on the origins of international economic inequality, or 'divergence', and the latter is relevant to the scholarship that considers the economic effects of colonialism.

Keywords: Colonial India, Comparative development, National income

JEL Classification: N10, N15

Suggested Citation

Roy, Tirthankar, Economic Conditions in Early Modern Bengal: A Contribution to the Divergence Debate (October 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7522, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1507518

Tirthankar Roy (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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