• Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S. & Robinson, J., 2002. Reversal of fortune: geography and development in the making of the modern world income distribution. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp.1231–1294.
    • Abstract

      Among countries colonized by European powers during the past 500 years, those that were relatively rich in 1500 are now relatively poor. We document this reversal using data on urbanization patterns and population density, which, we argue, proxy for economic prosperity. This reversal weighs against a view that links economic development to geographic factors. Instead, we argue that the reversal reflects changes in the institutions resulting from European colonialism. The European intervention appears to have created an "institutional reversal" among these societies, meaning that Europeans were more likely to introduce institutions encouraging investment in regions that were previously poor. This institutional reversal accounts for the reversal in relative incomes. We provide further support for this view by documenting that the reversal in relative incomes took place during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and resulted from societies with good institutions taking advantage of the opportunity to industrialize.

  • Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S. & Robinson, J., 2001. The colonial origins of economic development: an empirical investigation. American Economic Review, 91(5), pp.1369–1401.
    • Abstract

      We exploit differences in European mortality rates to estimate the effect of institutions on economic performance. Europeans adopted very different colonization policies in different colonies, with different associated institutions. In places where Europeans faced high mortality rates, they could not settle and were more likely to set up extractive institutions. These institutions persisted to the present. Exploiting differences in European mortality rates as an instrument for current institutions, we estimate large effects of institutions on income per capita. Once the effect of institutions is controlled for, countries in Africa or those closer to the equator do not have lower incomes.

  • Aiyar, S., Dalgaard, C.-J. & Moav, O., 2008. Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times. Journal of Economic Growth, 13(2), pp.125–144.
    • Abstract

      This paper offers micro-foundations for the dynamic relationship between technology and population in the pre-industrial world, accounting for both technological progress and the hitherto neglected but common phenomenon of technological regress. A growing population engenders the endogenous adoption of new techniques that increase the division of labour. Conversely, technological progress supports an increasing population in the Malthusian environment. A transient shock to population or productivity, however, induces the neglect of some techniques rendered temporarily unprofitable, which are therefore not transmitted to the next generation. When the shock passes, the division of labour remains constrained by the smaller stock of knowledge, and technology has thereby regressed. A slow process of rediscovery is required for the economy to reach its previous level of technological sophistication and population size.

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P. & Nunn, N., 2011. Fertility and the Plough. NBER Working Papers, (16718).
    • Abstract

      The current study finds that societies which historically engaged in plough agriculture today have lower fertility. We argue, and provide ethnographic evidence, that the finding is explained by the fact that with plough agriculture, children, like women, are relatively less useful in the field. The plough requires strength and eliminates the need for weeding, a task particularly suitable for women and children. This in turn generates a preference for fewer children, lowering fertility.

  • Allen, R.C., 2009. The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Allen, R.C., 2005. Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-term Patterns. In R. C. Allen, T. Bengtsson, & M. Dribe, eds. Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe. Oxford University Press. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Why did Europe experience industrialisation and modern economic growth before China, India or Japan? This is one of the most fundamental questions in Economic History and one that has provoked intense debate. The main concern of this book is to determine when the gap in living standards between the East and the West emerged. The established view, dating back to Adam Smith, is that the gap emerged long before the Industrial Revolution, perhaps thousands of years ago. While this view has been called into question - and many of the explanations for it greatly undermined - the issue demands much more empirical research than has yet been undertaken. How did the standard of living in Europe and Asia compare in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? The present book proposes an answer by considering evidence of three sorts. The first is economic, focusing on income, food production, wages, and prices. The second is demographic, comparing heights, life expectancy and other demographic indicators. The third combines the economic and demographic by investigating the demographic vulnerability to short-term economic stress. The contributions show the highly complex and diverse pattern of the standard of living in the pre-industrial period. The general picture emerging is not one of a great divergence between East and West, but instead one of considerable similarities. These similarities not only pertain to economic aspects of standard of living but also to demography and the sensitivity to economic fluctuations. In addition to these similarities, there were also pronounced regional differences within the East and within the West - regional differences that in many cases were larger than the average differences between Europe and Asia. This clearly highlights the importance of analysing several dimensions of the standard of living, as well as the danger of neglecting regional, social, and household specific differences when assessing the level of well-being in the past. Contr

  • Allen, R.C., 2001. The great divergence in European wages and prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War. Explorations in Economic History, 38(4), pp.411–447.
    • Abstract

      This paper traces the history of prices and wages in European cities from the fourteenth century to the First World War. It is shown that the divergence in real incomes observed in the mid-nineteenth century was produced between 1500 and 1750 as incomes fell in most European cities but were maintained (not increased) in the economic leaders.

  • Allen, R.C., 2000. Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300–1800. European Review of Economic History, 4(01), pp.1–25.
    • Abstract

      Estimates of employment structure, agricultural output, and agricultural labour productivity are developed for the leading European countries from 1300 to 1800. The employment estimates are developed from estimates of the total, urban, and rural populations. The output estimates are derived by positing a demand curve for agricultural goods.

  • Allen, R.C., 1999. Tracking the Agricultural Revolution in England. The Economic History Review, 52(2), pp.209–235.
  • Allen, R.C. et al., 2011. Wages, prices, and living standards in China, 1738-1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India. Economic History Review, 64(s1), pp.8–38.
    • Abstract

      This article develops data on the history of wages and prices in Beijing, Canton, and Suzhou/Shanghai in China from the eighteenth century to the twentieth, and compares them with leading cities in Europe, Japan, and India in terms of nominal wages, the cost of living, and the standard of living. In the eighteenth century, the real income of building workers in Asia was similar to that of workers in the backward parts of Europe but far behind that in the leading economies in north-western Europe. Real wages stagnated in China in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and rose slowly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth, with little cumulative change for 200 years. The income disparities of the early twentieth century were due to long‐run stagnation in China combined with industrialization in Japan and Europe.

  • Ashraf, Q. & Galor, O., 2011. Dynamics and stagnation in the malthusian epoch. American Economic Review, 101(5), pp.2003–41.
    • Abstract

      This paper examines the central hypothesis of the influential Malthusian theory, according to which improvements in the technological environment during the preindustrial era had generated only temporary gains in income per capita, eventually leading to a larger, but not significantly richer, population. Exploiting exogenous sources of cross-country variations in land productivity and the level of technological advancement, the analysis demonstrates that, in accordance with the theory, technological superiority and higher land productivity had significant positive effects on population density but insignificant effects on the standard of living, during the time period 1-1500 CE.

  • Becker, S.O. & Woessmann, L., 2009. Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History*. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), pp.531–596.
    • Abstract

      Max Weber attributed the higher economic prosperity of Protestant regions to a Protestant work ethic. We provide an alternative theory, where Protestant economies prospered because instruction in reading the Bible generated the human capital crucial to economic prosperity. County-level data from late 19th-century Prussia reveal that Protestantism was indeed associated not only with higher economic prosperity, but also with better education. We find that Protestants’ higher literacy can account for the whole gap in economic prosperity. Results hold when we exploit the initial concentric dispersion of the Reformation to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument for Protestantism.

  • Bolt, J. & Zanden, J.L. van, 2014. The Maddison Project: collaborative research on historical national accounts. Economic History Review, 67(3), pp.627–651.
  • Braudel, F., 1985. Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Braudel, F., 1973. Capitalism and Material Life, London: Harpercollins.
  • Brenner, R. & Isett, C., 2002. England’s Divergence from China’s Yangzi Delta: Property Relations, Microeconomics, and Patterns of Development. The Journal of Asian Studies, 61(2), pp.609–662. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      In the great divergence, Kenneth Pomeranz (2000) proposes a radical revision of our understanding of the pattern of economic evolution in the eastern and western ends of Eurasia over the course of the early modern and modern periods, roughly late Ming and Qing. A recent restatement of the standard or traditional view can be found in the macro-economic historian Angus Maddison’s account of world economic development in the very long run, The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective (2001), which sums up his argument in Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run (1998). According to Maddison, “Western Europe overtook China \ldots in per capita performance in the fourteenth century. Thereafter China [was] \ldots more or less stagnant in per capita terms until the second half of the twentieth century” (2001, 44). In contrast, Pomeranz insists that if the comparative focus is placed, as only makes sense, not on Europe or China as a whole—both of which contained the most disparate regions at vastly d

  • Broadberry, S. & Gupta, B., 2006. The early modern great divergence: wages, prices and economic development in Europe and Asia, 1500-1800. Economic History Review, 59(1), pp.2–31.
    • 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.

  • Cervellati, M. & Sunde, U., 2015. The Economic and Demographic Transition, Mortality, and Comparative Development. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 7(3), pp.189–225. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This paper develops a quantifiable unified growth theory to investigate cross-country comparative development. The calibrated model can replicate the historical development dynamics in forerunner countries like Sweden and the patterns in cross-country panel data. The findings suggest a crucial role of the timing of the onset of the economic and demographic transition for explaining differences in development. Country-specific differences in extrinsic mortality are a candidate explanation for differences in the timing of the take-off across countries and the resulting worldwide comparative development patterns, including the bimodal distribution of the endogenous variables across countries. (JEL I12, J11, J13, N33, N34, O41, O47)

  • Cervellati, M. & Sunde, U., 2005. Human Capital Formation, Life Expectancy, and the Process of Development. American Economic Review, 95(5), pp.1653–1672. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      We provide a unified theory of the transition in income, life expectancy, education, and population size from a nondeveloped environment to sustained growth. Individuals optimally trade off the time cost of education with its lifetime returns. Initially, low longevity implies a prohibitive cost for human capital formation for most individuals. A positive feedback loop between human capital and increasing longevity, triggered by endogenous skill-biased technological progress, eventually provides sufficient returns for widespread education. The transition is not based on scale effects and induces population growth despite unchanged fertility. A simulation illustrates that the dynamics fit historical data patterns.

  • Clark, G., 2009. The Macroeconomic Aggregates for England, 1209-2008.
  • Clark, G., 2007. A Farewell to Alms, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Clark, G., 2005. The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1209–2004. Journal of Political Economy, 113(6), pp.1307–1340. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      I use building workers’ wages for 1209–2004 and the skill premium to consider the causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Real wages were trendless before 1800, as would be predicted for the Malthusian era. Comparing wages with population, however, suggests that the break from the technological stagnation of the Malthusian era came around 1640, long before the classic Industrial Revolution, and even before the arrival of modern democracy in 1689. Building wages also conflict with human capital interpretations of the Industrial Revolution, as modeled by Gary Becker, Kevin Murphy, and Robert Tamura; Oded Galor and David Weil; and Robert Lucas. Human capital accumulation began when the rewards for skills were unchanged and when fertility was increasing.

  • Crafts, N.F.R. & Harley, C.K., 1992. Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view1. The Economic History Review, 45(4), pp.703–730.
  • Crafts, N. & Mills, T.C., 2009. From Malthus to Solow: How did the Malthusian economy really evolve? Journal of Macroeconomics, 31(1), pp.68–93. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This paper uses a variety of time-series methods and a new real wage series from [Clark, G., 2005. The condition of the working class in England, 1209 to 2004. Journal of Political Economy 113, 520 1307-1340.] to re-examine economic-demographic interactions in pre-industrial England. We confirm that there was a Malthusian economy in the sense that real wages were stationary until the end of the eighteenth century but we find that these was no positive check and that the preventive check broke down in the mid-seventeenth century so that Malthusian controls were absent from that point. There is no evidence of a positive feedback from increasing population size to technological progress as postulated by unified growth theory.

  • Dittmar, J.E., 2011. Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of The Printing Press. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(3), pp.1133–1172. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The printing press was the great innovation in early modern information technology, but economists have found no macroeconomic evidence of its impact. This article exploits city-level data. Between 1500 and 1600, European cities where printing presses were established in the 1400s grew 60% faster than otherwise similar cities. Cities that adopted printing in the 1400s had no prior advantage, and the association between adoption and subsequent growth was not due to printers choosing auspicious locations. These findings are supported by regressions that exploit distance from Mainz, Germany–the birthplace of printing–as an instrument for adoption. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

  • Doepke, M., 2004. Accounting for fertility decline during the transition to growth. Journal of Economic Growth, 9(3), pp.347–383.
    • Abstract

      In every developed country, the economic transition from pre-industrial stagnation to modern growth was accompanied by a demographic transition from high to low fertility. Even though the overall pattern is repeated, there are large cross-country variations in the timing and speed of the demographic transition. What accounts for falling fertility during the transition to growth? To answer this question, this paper develops a unified growth model that delivers a transition from stagnation to growth, accompanied by declining fertility. The model is used to determine whether government policies that affect the opportunity cost of education can account for cross-country variations in fertility decline. Among the policies considered, education subsidies are found to have only minor effects, while accounting for child labor regulation is crucial. Apart from influencing fertility, the policies also determine the evolution of the income distribution in the course of development.

  • Doepke, M. & Zilibotti, F., 2008. Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2), pp.747–793.
    • Abstract

      The British Industrial Revolution triggered a socioeconomic transformation whereby the landowning aristocracy was replaced by industrial capitalists rising from the middle classes as the economically dominant group. We propose a theory of preference formation under financial market imperfections that can account for this pattern. Parents shape their children’s preferences in response to economic incentives. Middle-class families in occupations requiring effort, skill, and experience develop patience and a work ethic, whereas upper-class families relying on rental income cultivate a refined taste for leisure. These class-specific attitudes, which are rooted in the nature of preindustrial professions, become key determinants of success once industrialization transforms the economic landscape.

  • Donaldson, D., 2010. Railroads of the Raj: Estimating the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure. NBER Working Papers, (16487).
    • Abstract

      How large are the benefits of transportation infrastructure projects, and what explains these benefits? To shed new light on these questions, this paper uses archival data from colonial India to investigate the impact of India’s vast railroad network. Guided by four predictions from a general equilibrium trade model, I find that railroads: (1) decreased trade costs and interregional price gaps; (2) increased interregional and international trade; (3) increased real income levels; and (4), that a sufficient statistic for the effect of railroads on welfare in the model (an effect that is purely due to newly exploited gains from trade) accounts for virtually all of the observed reduced-form impact of railroads on real income in the data. I find no spurious effects from over 40,000 km of lines that were approved but - for four different reasons - were never built.

  • Easterly, W. & Levine, R., 2012. The European Origins of Economic Development.
    • Abstract

      A large literature suggests that European settlement outside of Europe shaped institutional, educational, technological, cultural, and economic outcomes. This literature has had a serious gap: no direct measure of colonial European settlement. In this paper, we (1) construct a new database on the European share of the population during the early stages of colonization and (2) examine its impact on the level of economic development today. We find a remarkably strong impact of colonial European settlement on development. According to one illustrative exercise, 47 percent of average global development levels today are attributable to Europeans. One of our most surprising findings is the positive effect of even a small minority European population during the colonial period on per capita income today, contradicting traditional and recent views. There is some evidence for an institutional channel, but our findings are most consistent with human capital playing a central role in the way that colonial European settlement affects development today.

  • Elvin, M., 1973. The Pattern of the Chinese Past, Stanford University Press.
  • Frankema, E. & Waijenburg, M.V., 2012. Structural Impediments to African Growth? New Evidence from Real Wages in British Africa, 1880-1965. The Journal of Economic History, 72(04), pp.895–926. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Recent literature on the historical determinants of African poverty has emphasized structural impediments to African growth, such as adverse geographical conditions, weak institutions, or ethnic heterogeneity. But has African poverty been a persistent historical phenomenon? This article checks such assumptions against the historical record. We push African income estimates back in time by presenting urban unskilled real wages for nine British African colonies (1880–1965). We find that African real wages were well above subsistence level and that they rose significantly over time. Moreover, in West Africa and Mauritius real wage levels were considerably higher than those in Asia.

  • Galor, O., 2011. Unified Growth Theory, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Galor, O. & Moav, O., 2006. Das human-kapital: A theory of the demise of the class structure. The Review of Economic Studies, 73(1), p.85.
    • Abstract

      This paper hypothesizes that the demise of the 19th century’s European class structure reflects a deliberate transformation of society orchestrated by the capitalists. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it argues that the demise of this class structure was an outcome of a cooperative, rather than divisive process. The research suggests that the transition from this class structure may be viewed as the outcome of an optimal reaction by the capitalists to the increasing importance of human capital in sustaining their profit rates. The paper argues that the process of capital accumulation gradually intensified the importance of skilled labor in the production process and generated an incentive for investment in human capital. Due to the complementarity between physical and human capital in production, the capitalists were among the prime beneficiaries of the accumulation of human capital by the masses. They therefore had the incentive to support public education that would sustain their profit rates and would improve their economic well-being, although it would ultimately undermine their dynasty’s position in the social ladder. The research suggests that Karl Marx’s highly influential prediction about the inevitable class struggle due to declining profit rates stemmed from an under appreciation of the role that human capital would play in the production process. The basic premise of this research, regarding the positive attitude of capitalists towards education reforms, is supported empirically by a newly constructed data set of the voting patterns on England’s education reform proposed in the Balfour Act of 1902.

  • Galor, O. & Moav, O., 2002. Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp.1133–1191.
    • Abstract

      This research develops an evolutionary growth theory that captures the interplay between the evolution of mankind and economic growth since the emergence of the human species. The theory suggests that the struggle for survival that had characterized most of human existence generated an evolutionary advantage to human traits that were complementary to the growth process, triggering the takeoff from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

  • Galor, O., Moav, O. & Vollrath, D., 2009. Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence. Review of Economic Studies, 76(1), pp.143–179.   Paper   Data
    • Abstract

      This research suggests that favorable geographical conditions, that were inherently associated with inequality in the distribution of land ownership, adversely affected the implementation of human capital promoting institutions (e.g., public schooling and child labor regulations), and thus the pace and the nature of the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, contributing to the emergence of the Great Divergence in income per capita across countries. The basic premise of this research, regarding the negative effect of land inequality on public expenditure on education is established empirically based on cross-state data from the beginning of the 20th century in the United States.

  • Galor, O. & Mountford, A., 2008. Trading population for productivity: theory and evidence. Review of Economic Studies, 75(4), pp.1143–1179.
    • Abstract

      This research argues that the differential effect of international trade on the demand for human capital across countries has been a major determinant of the distribution of income and population across the globe. In developed countries the gains from trade have been directed towards investment in education and growth in income per capita, whereas a significant portion of these gains in less developed economies has been chanelled towards population growth. Cross-country regressions establish that indeed trade has positive effects on fertility and negative effects on education in non-OECD economies, while inducing fertility decline and human capital formation in OECD economies.

  • Galor, O. & Weil, D.N., 2000. Population, technology, and growth: From Malthusian stagnation to the demographic transition and beyond. The American Economic Review, 90(4), pp.806–828. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This paper develops a unified growth model that captures the historical evolution of population, technology, and output. It encompasses the endogenous transition between three regimes that have characterized economic development. The economy evolves from a Malthusian regime, where technological progress is slow and population growth prevents any sustained rise in income per capita, into a Post-Malthusian regime, where technological progress rises and population growth absorbs only part of output growth. Ultimately, a demographic transition reverses the positive relationship between income and population growth, and the economy enters a Modern Growth regime, with reduced population growth and sustained income growth.

  • Geertz, C., 1963. Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Hajnal, J., 1965. European Marriage Patterns in Perspective. In D. Glass & D. E. C. Eversley, eds. Population in History. London: Edward Arnold.
  • Hansen, G.D. & Prescott, E.C., 2002. From Malthus to Solow. American Economic Review, 92(4), pp.1205–1217.
    • Abstract

      A unified growth theory is developed that accounts for the roughly constant living standards displayed by world economies prior to 1800 as well as the growing living standards exhibited by modern industrial economies. Our theory also explains the industrial revolution, which is the transition from an era when per capita incomes are stagnant to one with sustained growth. This transition is inevitable given positive rates of total factor productivity growth. We use a standard growth model with one good and two available technologies. The first, denoted the capital as inputs. The second, denoted the does not require land. We show that in the early stages of development, only the Malthus technology is used and, due to population growth, living standards are stagnant despite technological progress. Eventually, technological progress causes the Solow technology to become profitable and both technologies are employed. At this point, living standards improve since population growth has less influence on per capita income growth. In the limit, the economy behaves like a standard Solow growth model.

  • Huang, P.C.C., 2002. Development or Involution in Eighteenth-Century Britain and China? A Review of Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. The Journal of Asian Studies, 61(2), pp.501–538. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Kenneth pomeranz argues that “the great divergence” between development and involution in Europe and China did not occur until after 1800. Until then, Europe and China were comparable in population history, agriculture, handicraft industry, income, and consumption. Europe before 1800, in other words, was much less developed than the last two decades of scholarship have led us to believe, while China before 1800 was much less involuted. To make his case, Pomeranz spotlights England, the most advanced part of Europe, and the Yangzi delta area, the most advanced part of China. They diverged only after 1800, mainly because of the lucky availability of coal resources for England, and also of other raw materials from the New World.

  • Huang, P.C.C., 1990. The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988, Stanford University Press.
  • Kelly, M. & Ó Gráda, C., 2014. Living standards and mortality since the middle ages. Economic History Review, 67(2), pp.358–381. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      type="main"> Existing studies find little connection between living standards and mortality in England, but go back only to the sixteenth century. Using new data on inheritances, we extend estimates of mortality back to the mid-thirteenth century and find, by contrast, that deaths from unfree tenants to the nobility were strongly affected by living standards. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though living standards were static at best, but persisted in London for another century despite its higher wages. In both cases the disappearance of the positive check coincided with the introduction of systematic poor relief, suggesting that government action may have played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.

  • Kelly, M. & Ó Gráda, C., 2012. The Preventive Check in Medieval and Preindustrial England. The Journal of Economic History, 72(04), pp.1015–1035. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      England’s post-Reformation demographic regime has been characterized as “low pressure.” Yet the evidence hitherto for the presence of a preventive check, defined as the short-run response of marriage and births to variations in living standards, is rather weak. New evidence in this article strengthens the case for the preventive check in both medieval and early modern England. We invoke manorial data to argue the case for a preventive check on marriages in the Middle Ages. Our analysis of the post-1540 period, based on parish-level rather than aggregate data, finds evidence for a preventive check on marriages and births.

  • Lagerlöf, N.-P., 2016. Understaning per capita income growth in preindustrial Europe.
  • Lagerlöf, N.-P., 2015. Malthus in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp.1091–1133. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This paper presents some new and unique cross-county data from 19th-century Sweden over birth, death, and marriage rates, grain prices, and harvests. Local grain prices correlate negatively with local harvests, suggesting imperfectly integrated food markets. The so-called positive and preventive checks are also present: good local harvests are associated with high birth and marriage rates, and low death rates. We also find that the fertility and marriage effects from changes in prices – but not harvests – are greater in counties that rely more on manufacturing, consistent with an open-economy model of fertility choice, where agents earn income from both agriculture and manufacturing.

  • Lagerlöf, N.-P., 2006. The Galor-Weil Model Revisited: A Quantitative Exercise. Review of Economic Dynamics, 9(1), pp.116–142. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Abstract: The long-run growth model of Galor and Weil (AER 2000) is examined quantitatively. We first give parametric forms to some functions which were only given on general form in the original article. We then choose numerical parameter values in line with calibrations of related long-run growth models, and with data. Finally, we simulate the model. We find, inter alia, that the time paths for population, and other variables, display oscillatory behavior: they move in endogenous cycles. As the economy transits from Malthusian stagnation to modern growth these oscillations die out. This is consistent with population growth rates fluctuating considerably in historical data, but having stabilized in modern economies. We also show that these cycles are not an artifact of the two-period life setting: allowing adults to live on after the second period of life with some probability does not make the oscillations go away. Rather, the cycles are driven by fertility being proportional to per-capita income minus the parental subsistence requirement. When population is large, and per-capita incomes close to subsistence, fertility is therefore sensitive to changes in population levels. (Copyright: Elsevier)

  • Landes, D.S., 1969. The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1975 to the Present, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lee, J., Campbell, C. & Feng, W., 2002. Positive Check or Chinese Checks? The Journal of Asian Studies, 61(2), pp.591–607. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      As recently as twenty-five years ago, there were virtually no demographers of China and there was little available data on Chinese demographic behavior. Thus in spite of intense interest in China’s population dating back at least to Malthus (1766–1834), his initial understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of Chinese population dynamics remains dominant. While recent research on European population history has confirmed Malthus’s observations that European, or at least English, population size was controlled largely by the preventive check, nuptiality, the absence of similar studies of Chinese population history ironically facilitated the persistence of a Malthusian hypothesis that Chinese population size was controlled largely by the positive check, mortality. It is a tribute to the elegance and power of the Malthusian orthodoxy that in spite of the lack of information on Chinese historic demographic behavior and economic performance, many of the most distinguished Western scholars o

  • Lee, R. & Anderson, M., 2002. Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870. Journal of Population Economics, 15(2), pp.195–220. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      . The history of preindustrial Europe provides an opportunity to examine the causes and consequences of population change at a macro level. However, serious statistical problems arise from the endogeneity of all observed variables in a Malthusian system (fertility, mortality, population size, and real wages), and from unobserved influences such as shifts in the demand for labor and variations in health. These problems have undermined both informal inference from the data and more complex econometric investigations. This paper takes a new statistical approach, finding the maximum likelihood estimate of a state space representation of the Malthusian system by repeated application of Kalman filter methods, using annual data from England, 1540 to 1870. The new estimates confirm some findings of the earlier literature and contradict others. Some variables are estimated for the first time. Implications are discussed for the interpretation of English economic-demographic history.

  • Maddison, A., 2010. Historical Statistics of the World Economy, 1-2008 A.D.
  • Malthus, T., 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population, London: J. Johnson.
  • McEvedy, C. & Jones, R., 1978. Atlas of World Population History, New York, NY: Penguin Books.
  • McNeill, W.H., 1976. Plagues and Peoples, Anchor Books.
  • Mitch, D.F., 1992. The Rise of Popular Literacy in Victorian England: The Influence of Private Choice and Public Policy, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Mitchell, B.R., 1975. European Historical Statistics, 1750-1970, New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
  • Mitterauer, M., 2010. Why Europe? The Medieval Origins of its Special Path, University of Chicago Press.
    • Abstract

      Why did capitalism and colonialism arise in Europe and not elsewhere? Why were parliamentarian and democratic forms of government founded there? What factors led to Europe’s unique position in shaping the world? Thoroughly researched and persuasively argued, Why Europe? tackles these classic questions with illuminating results. Michael Mitterauer traces the roots of Europe’s singularity to the medieval era, specifically to developments in agriculture. While most historians have located the beginning of Europe’s special path in the rise of state power in the modern era, Mitterauer establishes its origins in rye and oats. These new crops played a decisive role in remaking the European family, he contends, spurring the rise of individualism and softening the constraints of patriarchy. Mitterauer reaches these conclusions by comparing Europe with other cultures, especially China and the Islamic world, while surveying the most important characteristics of European society as they took shape from the decline of the Roman empire to the invention of the printing press. Along the way, Why Europe? offers up a dazzling series of novel hypotheses to explain the unique evolution of European culture.

  • Mokyr, J., 2002. The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Mokyr, J. & Voth, H.-J., 2007. Understanding Growth in Europe, 1700-1870: Theory and Evidence.
  • Mourmouras, A. & Rangazas, P., 2009. Reconciling Kuznets and Habbakuk in a unified growth theory. Journal of Economic Growth, 14(2), pp.149–181.
    • Abstract

      Economic historians have debated the relative labor productivity of the United States agricultural sector during the 19th century. David (2005) offers a reconciliation of the opposing views by suggesting that while productivity per hour worked in agriculture was high, the number of hours worked per year was low. We model and extend a version of Davis’s reconciliation within a unified growth theory that connections the structural transformation away from traditional agriculture to several other features of United States development. Similar to David, our model predicts an almost two-fold annual workerproductivity advantage in the modern (industrial) sector of the economy, entirely due to greater hours worked per year. The dynamic general equilibrium model is consistent with the structural transformation having minor direct and indirect effects on aggregate labor productivity per hour, but substantial effects on aggregate labor productivity per worker. The model also provides a reasonable match to the trends in schooling, fertility, rates of return to physical capital, and labor productivity growth over the two centuries.

  • Nunn, N. & Qian, N., 2011. The Potato’s Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from a Historical Experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(2), pp.pp. 593–650. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      We exploit regional variation in suitability for cultivating potatoes, together with time variation arising from their introduction to the Old World from the Americas, to estimate the impact of potatoes on Old World population and urbanization. Our results show that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a significant portion of the increase in population and urbanization observed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. According to our most conservative estimates, the introduction of the potato accounts for approximately one-quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 and 1900. Additional evidence from within-country comparisons of city populations and adult heights also confirms the cross-country findings.

  • O’Brien, P. & Deng, K., 2015. Locating a chronology for the great divergence: a critical survey of published data deployed for the measurement of nominal wages for Ming and Qing China, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Since the publication of Kenneth Pomeranz’s seminal book The Great Divergence, the landscape of world and global history has changed dramatically. For the first time, living standards, instead of labour, land and capital productivities, have become the prime concern among historians in various parts of the world. The key to this decade-long debate hinges on quantity and quality of information for transnational and cross-regional comparisons. But due to the obvious constraints we historians constantly face, genuinely good data are frustratingly hard to obtain and thus set the upper limits for what we can possibly achieve. The task of the present study is to put some currently circulated nominal wages for the Ming-Qing Period (1368-1911) under the microscope to check their feasibility. Our main findings from Chinese sources suggest that published cash wages did not reflect the actual living wages needed in reality to support a worker and his family of the average size. This means that we may have been barking at the wrong tree.

  • Pirenne, H., 1936. Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe, London.
  • Pirenne, H., 1925. Medieval cities, their Origins, and the Revival of Trade, Princeton, NJ.
  • Pomeranz, K., 2002. Beyond the East-West Binary: Resituating Development Paths in the Eighteenth-Century World. The Journal of Asian Studies, 61(2), pp.539–590. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Debate can advance scholarly discussion, and I am grateful to JAS for the chance to do so here. As much as possible, I would like to move forward by introducing additional arguments and evidence. However, some recapitulation of the book under discussion is inevitable, as is some review of debates related to Philip Huang’s book on a related topic. Some return to previously plowed ground is further necessitated by the nature of his review. First, he has fundamentally misunderstood what my book claims, as well as the support for some of those claims. I will not correct all of these errors here, but I will need to go over some of the major examples. Second, a central contention of his review is that his 1990 book, The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350–1988 remains the best framework for understanding the delta’s economy over that entire period. Huang is; of course, entitled to that view: but in reasserting that book’s thesis he ignores rather than responds to t

  • Pomeranz, K., 2000. The Great Divergence, Princeton University Press.
  • Putterman, L. & Weil, D.N., 2010. Post-1500 Population Flows and the Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(4), pp.1627–1682.
    • Abstract

      We construct a matrix showing the share of the year 2000 population in every country that is descended from people in different source countries in the year 1500. Using the matrix to adjust indicators of early development so that they reflect the history of a population’s ancestors rather than the history of the place they live today greatly improves the ability of those indicators to predict current GDP. The variance of the early development history of a country’s inhabitants is a good predictor for current inequality, with ethnic groups originating in regions having longer histories of organized states tending to be at the upper end of a country’s income distribution.

  • Shiue, C.H. & Keller, W., 2007. Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution. The American Economic Review, 97(4), pp.pp. 1189–1216. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      Why did Western Europe industrialize first? An influential view holds that its exceptionally well-functioning markets supported with a certain set of institutions provided the incentives to make investments needed to industrialize. This paper examines this hypothesis by comparing the actual performance of markets in terms of market integration in Western Europe and China, two regions that were relatively advanced in the preindustrial period, but would start to industrialize about 150 years apart. We find that the performance of markets in China and Western Europe overall was comparable in the late eighteenth century. Market performance in England was higher than in the Yangzi Delta, and markets in England also performed better than those in continental Western Europe. This suggests strong market performance may be necessary, but it is not sufficient for industrialization. Rather than being a key condition for subsequent growth, improvements in market performance and growth occurred simultaneously.

  • Sokoloff, K.L. & Engerman, S.L., 2000. History Lessons: Institutions, Factors Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), pp.217–232. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      The explanations offered for the contrasting records of long-run growth and development among the societies of North and South America most often focus on institutions. The traditional explanations for the sources of these differences in institutions, typically highlight the significance of national heritage or religion. We, in contrast, argue that a hemispheric perspective across the wide range of colonies established in the New World by the Europeans suggests that although there were many influences, factor endowments or initial conditions had profound and enduring effects on the long-run paths of institutional and economic development followed by the respective economies.

  • Spolaore, E. & Wacziarg, R., 2012. How Deep are the Roots of Economic Development?
    • Abstract

      The empirical literature on economic growth and development has moved from the study of proximate determinants to the analysis of ever deeper, more fundamental factors, rooted in long-term history. A growing body of new empirical work focuses on the measurement and estimation of the effects of historical variables on contemporary income by explicitly taking into account the ancestral composition of current populations. The evidence suggests that economic development is affected by traits that have been transmitted across generations over the very long run. This article surveys this new literature and provides a framework to discuss different channels through which intergenerationally transmitted characteristics may impact economic development, biologically (via genetic or epigenetic transmission) and culturally (via behavioral or symbolic transmission). An important issue is whether historically transmitted traits have affected development through their direct impact on productivity, or have operated indirectly as barriers to the diffusion of productivity-enhancing innovations across populations.

  • Spolaore, E. & Wacziarg, R., 2009. The Diffusion of Development. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), pp.469–529.
    • Abstract

      We find that genetic distance, a measure associated with the time elapsed since two populations’ last common ancestors, has a statistically and economically significant effect on income differences across countries, even controlling for measures of geographical distance, climatic differences, transportation costs, and measures of historical, religious, and linguistic distance. We provide an economic interpretation of these findings in terms of barriers to the diffusion of development from the world technological frontier, implying that income differences should be a function of relative genetic distance from the frontier. The empirical evidence strongly supports this barriers interpretation.

  • Strulik, H. & Weisdorf, J.L., 2008. Population, food, and knowledge: A simple unified growth theory. Journal of Economic Growth, 13(3), pp.195–216.
    • Abstract

      This paper provides a unified growth theory, i.e. a model that explains the very long-run economic and demographic development path of industrialized economies, stretching from the pre-industrial era to the present-day and beyond. Making strict use of Malthus’ (An essay on the principle of population. London, printed for J. Johnson, 1798) so-called preventive check hypothesis—that fertility rates vary inversely with the price of food—the current study offers a new and straightforward explanation for the demographic transition and the break with the Malthusian era. Employing a two-sector framework with agriculture and industry, we demonstrate how fertility responds differently to productivity and income growth, depending on whether it emerges in agriculture or industry. Agricultural productivity and income growth makes food goods, and therefore children, relatively less expensive. Industrial productivity and income growth, on the other hand, makes food goods, and therefore children, relatively more expensive. The present framework lends support to existing unified growth theories and is well in tune with historical evidence about structural transformation.

  • Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H.-J., 2013. The Three Horsemen of Riches: Plague, War, and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe. Review of Economic Studies, 80(2), pp.774–811.
    • Abstract

      How did Europe escape the "Iron Law of Wages?" We construct a simple Malthusian model with two sectors and multiple steady states, and use it to explain why European per capita incomes and urbanization rates increased during the period 1350–1700. Productivity growth can only explain a small fraction of the rise in output per capita. Population dynamics – changes of the birth and death schedules – were far more important determinants of steady states. We show how a major shock to population can trigger a transition to a new steady state with higher per-capita income. The Black Death was such a shock, raising wages substantially. Because of Engel’s Law, demand for urban products increased, and urban centers grew in size. European cities were unhealthy, and rising urbanization pushed up aggregate death rates. This effect was reinforced by diseases spread through war, financed by higher tax revenues. In addition, rising trade also spread diseases. In this way higher wages themselves reduced population pressure. We show in a calibration exercise that our model can account for the sustained rise in European urbanization as well as permanently higher per capita incomes in 1700, without technological change. Wars contributed importantly to the ’Rise of Europe,’ even if they had negative short-run effects. We thus trace Europe’s precocious rise to economic riches to interactions of the plague shock with the belligerent political environment and the nature of cities.

  • Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H.-J., 2013. How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction. American Economic Review, 103(6), pp.2227–64. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      We analyze the emergence of the first socioeconomic institution in history limiting fertility: west of a line from St. Petersburg to Trieste, the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) reduced childbirths by approximately one-third between the fourteenth and eighteenth century. To explain the rise of EMP we build a two-sector model of agricultural production?grain and livestock. Women have a comparative advantage in animal husbandry. After the Black Death in 1348?1350, land abundance triggered a shift toward the pastoral sector. This improved female employment prospects, leading to later marriages. Using detailed data from England, we provide strong evidence for our mechanism.

  • Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H.-J., 2009. Malthusian Dynamism and the Rise of Europe: Make War, Not Love. American Economic Review, 99(2), pp.248–54. Available at: Link.
    • Abstract

      This paper argues that Malthusian regimes are capable of sustained changes in per capita incomes. Shifting mortality and fertility schedules can lead to different steady-state income levels, with long periods of growth during the transition. Europe checked the downward pressure on wages through late marriage, which reduced fertility, and a mortality regime that combined high death rates with high incomes. We argue that both emerged as a result of the Black Death.

      (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

    • Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H.-J., 2006. Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution. Journal of Economic Growth, 11(4), pp.319–361. Available at: Link.
      • Abstract

        Why did England industrialize first? And why was Europe ahead of the rest of the world? Unified growth theory in the tradition of Galor and Weil (2000, American Economic Review, 89, 806-828) and Galor and Moav (2002, Quartely Journal of Economics, 177(4), 1133-1191) captures the key features of the transition from stagnation to growth over time. Yet we know remarkably little about why industrialization occurred much earlier in some parts of the world than in others. To answer this question, we present a probabilistic two-sector model where the initial escape from Malthusian constraints depends on the demographic regime, capital deepening and the use of more differentiated capital equipment. Weather-induced shocks to agricultural productivity cause changes in prices and quantities, and affect wages. In a standard model with capital externalities, these fluctuations interact with the demographic regime and affect the speed of growth. Our model is calibrated to match the main characteristics of the English economy in 1700 and the observed transition until 1850. We capture one of the key features of the British Industrial Revolution emphasized by economic historians slow growth of output and productivity. Fertility limitation is responsible for higher per capita incomes, and these in turn increase industrialization probabilities. The paper also explores the availability of nutrition for poorer segments of society. We examine the influence of redistributive institutions such as the Old Poor Law, and find they were not decisive in fostering industrialization. Simulations using parameter values for other countries show that Britains early escape was only partly due to chance. France could have moved out of agriculture and into manufacturing faster than Britain, but the probability was less than 25%. Contrary to recent claims in the literature, 18th century China had only a minimal chance to escape from Malthusian constraints. Copyright Springer Science+Business

    • Vollrath, D., 2011. The agricultural basis of comparative development. Journal of Economic Growth, 16(4), pp.343–370.   Paper
      • Abstract

        This article shows, in a two-sector Malthusian model of endogenous population growth, that output per capita, population density, and industrialization depend upon the labor intensity of agricultural production. Because the diminishing returns to labor are less pronounced, high labor intensity (as in rice production) leads not only to a larger population density but also to lower output per capita and a larger share of labor in agriculture. Agronomic and historical evidence confirm that there are distinct, inherent differences between rice and wheat production. A calibration of the model shows that a relatively small difference in labor intensity in agriculture can account for a large portion of the observed differences in industrialization, output per capita, and labor productivity between Asia and Europe prior to the Industrial Revolution. Significantly, these differences can be explained even though sector-level total factor productivity levels and the efficiency of factor markets are held constant in the two regions.

    • Weisdorf, J.L., 2008. Malthus revisited: Fertility decision making based on quasi-linear preferences. Economics Letters, 99(1), pp.127–130.
      • Abstract

        Malthus’ (1798) population hypothesis is inconsistent with the demographic transitions and the massive income expansion observed among industrialised countries. The current study shows that eliminating the income-effect on the demand for children from Malthus’ theory makes consistent with industrial development.

    • Weisdorf, J.L., 2006. From domestic manufacture to Industrial Revolution: long-run growth and agricultural development. Oxford Economic Papers, 58(2), pp.264–287.
      • Abstract

        The classical story of industrialization always begins with agriculture: the modernization of rural institutions, involving both the enclosure of ’open fields’ and a shift from peasant farming to larger scale capitalist farming, generates a rise in agricultural productivity, which in turn fuels industrial development. An emerging view, however, turns the old story on its head, arguing that agricultural improvement is a response to urban development. This paper follows the line of this emerging view, demonstrating that productivity growth in commercial manufacture is crucial to the performance of farmers and thus to the transfer of labour from agriculture to industry.

    • Weisdorf, J.L., 2004. From stagnation to growth: revisiting three historical regimes. Journal of Population Economics, 17(3), pp.455–472.
      • Abstract

        This paper explores the role of mortality in the long transition from Malthusian stagnation to sustained economic growth. An endogenous child mortality rate that varies inversely with parents’ standard of living is added to the framework in Galor and Weil (AER 2000). In our version of the model, the transition from stagnation to growth, triggered by an exogenous shock to technology, comprises a ‘mortality revolution’ succeeded by a ‘demographic transition’.

    • Vries, J. de, 2008. The Industrious Revolution, Cambridge University Press.
      • Abstract

        In the long eighteenth century, new consumer aspirations combined with a new industrious behavior to fundamentally alter the material cultures of northwest Europe and North America. This ’industrious revolution’ is the context in which the economic acceleration associated with the Industrial Revolution took shape. This study explores the intellectual understanding of the new importance of consumer goods as well as the actual consumer behavior of households of all income levels. De Vries examines how the activation and evolution of consumer demand shaped the course of economic development, situating consumer behavior in the context of the household economy. He considers the changing consumption goals of households from the seventeenth century to the present and analyzes how household decisions have mediated between macro-level economic growth and actual human betterment. Ultimately, de Vries’ research reveals the strengths and weaknesses of existing consumer theory, suggesting revisions that add historical realism to economic abstractions.