From Convergence to Divergence: Portuguese Demography and Economic Growth, 1500-1850
51 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2016 Last revised: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: September 13, 2016
We construct the first time-series for Portugal’s per capita GDP for 1500-1850, drawing on a new and extensive database. Starting around 1550 there was a highly persistent upward trend of per capita income, which accelerated after 1700 and peaked 50 years later. At that point, per capita incomes were high by European standards. But as the second half of the eighteenth century unfolded, a phase of economic decline was initiated. This continued into the nineteenth century, and Portugal found itself as one of the most backward European economies precisely at the dawn of the era of modern economic growth.
Keywords: Early Modern Portugal, Historical National Accounts, Standards of Living Debate, The Little Divergence, Malthusian Model
JEL Classification: N13, O52
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