The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800

30 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2006  

Stephen N. Broadberry

LSE - London

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

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Abstract

Contrary to the claims of Pomeranz, Parthasarathi, and other 'world historians', the prosperous parts of Asia between 1500 and 1800 look similar to the stagnating southern, central, and eastern parts of Europe rather than the developing north-western parts. In the advanced parts of India and China, grain wages were comparable to those in north-western Europe, but silver wages, which conferred purchasing power over tradable goods and services, were substantially lower. The high silver wages of north-western Europe were not simply a monetary phenomenon, but reflected high productivity in the tradable sector. The 'great divergence' between Europe and Asia was already well underway before 1800.

Suggested Citation

Broadberry, Stephen N. and Gupta, Bishnupriya, The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800. Economic History Review, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 2-31, February 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=877415 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2005.00331.x

Stephen N. Broadberry (Contact Author)

LSE - London ( email )

+44 0 24 7652 3446 (Phone)
+44 0 24 7652 3032 (Fax)

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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